Friday, May 10, 2013

Meet Gary!

I credit my parents for being the most important culinary influences in my life. Having been raised in a restaurant environment, I was exposed to not only classic Cantonese cuisine, but also what could only be described as genuine Soul Food. Chicken Fried Steak would often mingle with Chicken Chow Mein at the same table! The sights, sounds, and most importantly, the flavors of these restaurant years would inspire me to not only seek out and eat, but to learn to create delicious, balanced, Asian-fusion comfort food. An avowed carnivore, I love to take large cuts of meat (run, piggies, run!) and prepare them in delicious, often frugal ways, sometimes even making the leftovers more spectacular than the original meal (Spicy pork tacos, anyone?). I live in my hometown of Houston with my partner of 15 years, who eats most of what I cook. I currently work in Conference
Services/Event Planning for a global law firm. In my spare time, I incessantly post food pictures to Facebook and my blog.

Shrimp and Lobster Cantonese

Of all the dishes I have learned over the years, this one is probably the most inspirational. A sentimental favorite, it represents, literally, the center of the menu at my parents’ restaurant (Number 61 fell smack dab in the center of the “Cantonese Specialties” column, which ran down the middle of the menu). It is both a luxury and a comfort food; it offers a variety of contrasts, some subtle, some not. It contains some of my favorite ingredients: lobster, shrimp, garlic, and yes, pork! The cooking process is a study in the beauty of cooking transformation; when the beaten eggs are swirled into the dish, creating a smooth, supple, delicious gravy, it’s truly magical!

1 whole, live lobster (about 1 pound)
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Coarse salt
White pepper
1 Tablespoon dry sherry or dry white wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch PLUS
2 teaspoon cornstarch, divided use
½ pound ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown sugar
3 Tablespoons dried, fermented black beans, rinsed, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
3 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups chicken broth, warm, divided use
3 Tablespoons light soy sauce
4 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 eggs, beaten
4 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Plunge the lobster in the water, head first. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the shell is bright red. Plunge into ice water to arrest cooking; drain. When cool enough to handle, twist the head from the tail, and separate the knuckles and the claws from the body. With a sharp knife, slice the tail into 1-inch pieces. Wrapping knuckles and claws individually in a kitchen towel, firmly hit with the back of a knife to crack the shell open and expose the meat. Rinse to remove any small shell fragments. Set lobster pieces aside.

In a large dish, place the shrimp. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper, sherry or wine. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and set aside.

In a medium dish, place the ground pork. Season liberally with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with a pinch of brown sugar. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a small bowl, place the rinsed and drained black beans, minced garlic and ginger. Mash together with a spoon to create a coarse paste.

Heat a large wok or pot over high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the shrimp in one layer; do not disturb. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the other side is just browned, and shrimp are almost completely cooked through. Remove the shrimp and keep warm.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat until smoking. Add the pork and black bean mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes, browning and combining the pork and black bean mixture. (Additional oil may be added if pork is very lean) Toss again, breaking up the pork. Cook until browned throughout and the pork is no longer pink. Add 1 ½ cups chicken stock, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Bring to a boil. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with the remaining chicken stock. Add to the pork mixture, stirring until slightly thickened. Check the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, and/or soy or oyster sauces to taste. Add the shrimp and lobster to wok. Toss to combine and heat through.

Reduce the heat. Stirring gently, slowly drizzle the beaten egg around the edges of the wok, incorporating the egg into the sauce. The sauce should be thick, but smooth (additional hot stock may be added if too thick). Add half of the chopped green onions and drizzle with the sesame oil. Toss to combine, and remove to a serving platter. Garnish with the remaining green onions, and serve at once.

1 comment:

  1. Gary, this looks decadent and amazing. I can't wait to try it.