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Stir-Fried Shrimp and Broccoli

Whenever I go out for Chinese food, the broccoli on the menu is sure to have my name on it. Very occasionally I’ll switch it up and go for something different, like vegetable moo-shu or some kind of Chinese-adorned green beans, but in general it’s stir-fried broccoli that’s going on my plate. Broccoli in white sauce, broccoli in brown sauce, tofu and broccoli, or occasionally shrimp and broccoli, like I made for last night’s dinner…Whatever it is, my order will probably include that tree-looking veggie known as broccoli. In fact, Chinese-seasoned is probably my favorite way to eat the nutrient-rich, royal green crowns.

What could be even tastier than take-out Chinese broccoli? A homemade version, of course! Made at home, this stir-fried dish keeps all the flavor with less of the gluck. Plus, with your eye on the stove, you can avoid having your shrimp being cooked to a chewy, rubbery death. Another perk? Say your goodbyes to that vain, plain Jane white rice because by cooking at home, you can guarantee that it’s brown rice that will be served under your stuperstar broccoli. Win.

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Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir Fry

With shrimp in the fridge and snow peas in the garden, I knew I wanted to make a stir fry.  Utilizing snow peas in stir-fries is classic, and probably my favorite way to cook them.  As I was perusing the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I conveniently came across a recipe for “stir-fried shrimp with snow peas and red bell pepper in hot and sour sauce”.  I immediately knew that that would be my dinner the following night.

I love cooking magazines, and along with Vegetarian Times, Cook’s Illustrated ranks among my top two favorites.  I even wrote a whole paper about the magazine for one of my college courses last year, which is when I found out that Cook’s Illustrated tests their recipes as many as 70 times in order to find just the right combination of ingredients before printing!  No wonder their recipes pretty much always turn out amazing, and this one was no different.

The key to shrimp is keeping it tender, something that’s certainly not always easy to do.  Cook’s recipe calls for a 30-minute marinade that employs the key ingredient of salt to help the robust flavors of garlic and ginger seep into the shrimp as well as to help the shrimp retain their juices while cooking in order to avoid making the them tough.  The result:  super tender shrimp and a dish that was far superior to those served in most restaurants.

With that I’ll leave you the slightly modified version of Cook Illustrated’s shrimp stir fry.

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Red Bell Pepper in Hot and Sour Sauce

(Serves 4)

-2 medium garlic cloves, 1 minced, 1 thinly sliced
-1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
-1 Tbsp. fresh ginger
-3 Tbsp. canola oil
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. soy sauce
-3 Tbsp. sugar
-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
-1/2 Tbsp. Siracha
-1 Tbsp. dry sherry
-2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
-1 Tbsp. ketchup
-2 tsp. cornstarch
-1 large shallot, sliced thin (about 1/3 cup)
-1/2 pound snow peas
-1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch dice

1.  Combine minced garlic, ginger, 1 Tbsp. oil, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add shrimp, and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, Siracha, sherry, sesame oil, ketchup, and corn starch in a small bowl.  Combine sliced garlic with shallot in a second small bowl.

3.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.  Add snow peas and bell pepper, and cook 4-5 minutes until vegetables begin to brown, stirring frequently.  Transfer veggies to a medium bowl.

4.  Add remaining Tbsp. oil in the now-empty skillet.  Add garlic-shallot mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds.  Add shrimp, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequnetly, until shrimp are light pink on both sides (about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes).  Add soy sauce mixture to skillet; return to high heat and cook, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened and shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Return veggies to skillet, and toss to combine.  Serve alongside rice.