Cantonese Style Black Bean Shrimp (Prawns)
From my first trip to Hong Kong when I was 9, ’til moving there at 24, my main takeaway from the place was the amazing food. Even now, with memories of the fantastic beaches, bustling city, a too-small apartment, and wonderful nights out, food is still the main reason I would go back to Hong Kong. This recipe for black bean shrimp is my recreation of a dish I would get at Temple Spice Crab in Jordan. I’m not going to say it’s a perfect match, but it does hit the right spots when I get a bit “homesick”.
The one thing most people need to know about Chinese cooking is the speed. There’s not a lot of delicacy akin to French or Japanese cuisine, but rather lots of heat and funky flavors. Personally I think Hong Kong or Cantonese cuisine far surpasses the rest of the non Guangzhou mainland cuisine, but that’s an opinion for another time.
How To Make Shrimp In Black Bean Sauce
To make this classic Hong Kong style black bean shrimp you’re going to need some…shrimp. Traditionally a restaurant will use tiger shrimp, but I am using Argentinean red shrimp. There isn’t too much a difference in size, although I find the latter to be a bit sweeter. I’m using 1kg (whole weight) of these shrimp, which is 2.2 pounds.
Peel and devein the shrimp and place in a bowl. Add in 1/4 cup (50ml) of rice wine, a pinch of salt, two cloves of minced garlic, and red chili flakes to taste. This marinade only needs a few minutes to do the job, so you can get working on prepping the rest of the ingredients. Chop a red bell pepper and a white onion, and grind about 1 inch of ginger into a paste. I use a microplane which makes quick work of it.
The signature part of this dish is of course the black bean sauce. No one expects you to make your own, as even restaurants in Hong Kong will use a manufactured brand, most likely Lee Kum Kee as seen above. Pick up a jar in either the condiment or ethnic foods section of a decent grocer. This is the same sauce I use in other recipes like my Black Bean Salmon and my duck with vietnamese style noodles.
In a bowl add in 2 tablespoons of the black bean sauce along with two cups of chicken stock. Also mix in a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar and two teaspoons each of oyster sauce, white sugar, and potato starch. Whisk everything together.
Time To Stir-Fry
In a high walled pan on high heat add some vegetable oil. Add in the onion and bell pepper and ginger and toss the pan around. You don’t want either vegetable to lose their crunch, but rather get a little charred along the edges. Make sure to toss the pan often so the ginger doesn’t burn.
Add in the shrimp with the marinade and agitate the pan. Shrimp cooks fast so once you notice them getting even a little tight move on to the next step.
Pour over the black bean sauce and stir the pan. The potato starch will cause the liquid to thicken up as soon as it comes to temperature, which is precisely when this dish is done (less than 2 minutes). Move the dish to a large serving vessel so it is off the hot pan.
Serve this Cantonese style black bean shrimp along with some white rice. I like to drizzle just a little sesame oil over the shrimp for some extra flavor, but that’s entirely optional. Garnish with some chopped green onion and enjoy!
Cantonese Style Black Bean Shrimp
- 1 kg Shrimp The bigger the shrimp the better, less opportunity to overcook them. If you are buying already peeled and cleaned shrimp then use .5kg
- 1 Red Bell Pepper chopped into large pieces
- 1 White Onion chopped into large pieces
- 1 inch Ginger grated into a paste (I used a microplane)
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 pinch Salt
- 50 ml Rice Wine
- Red Chili Flakes to taste
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil or other high smoke point cooking oil
- Sesame Oil optional
- Green Onion chopped, for garnish
Black Bean Sauce
- 2 tbsp Black Bean Paste I recommend Lee Kum Kee brand
- 2 cups Chicken Stock or vegetable stock if you prefer
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 tsp Oyster Sauce
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 2 tsp Potato Starch can also use corn starch if you prefer
- Begin by peeling and cleaning all the shrimp. Place them in a bowl and add the rice wine, salt, chili flakes, and garlic.
- In a bowl whisk together all the black bean sauce ingredients.
- In a high walled pan on high heat add the oil along with the bell pepper, onion, and ginger. Stir and toss the pan so the ginger doesn't burn. Once you see the vegetables get a little char on the edges you can add the shrimp + shrimp marinade
- Toss the pan so the shrimp aren't bunched up and the marinade mixes with the vegetables. After about 20 seconds pour in the black bean sauce. Stir the pan. Once the sauce comes to temperature and bubbles it will thicken and you should turn off the heat.
- Move the black bean shrimp to a large dish to take off the heat from the pan. Serve alongside some white rice and garnish with a bit of chopped green onion. I personally like to drizzle a little sesame oil over the top, but you can skip that if you're not a fan.