Stein's Best Ever Shrimp & Lobster Sauce
Both Nancy and I have loved this Chinese American restaurant staple since childhood.
I've been playing around with the dish, adding my own refinements and tweaks for years before finally synthesizing a method for Shrimp & Lobster Sauce as I remember it from childhood dinners at New Rochelle's House of Wu.
Nancy thought we should do S&LS for a FfT but I was reluctant. I've been making this dish for so long that it's second nature to me.
I had no idea about measurements or how to tell anyone to go about putting it together. "No problem," Nancy said. "You cook. I'll watch and take notes."
So Nancy came over, watched me cook and asked many questions. By the time we'd finished and worked the recipe up I saw that what seemed simple to me is actually more complicated than I realized. Still, it's not cold fusion. Follow the directions below and you'll be rewarded with the Platonic Ideal of this old Chinese-American favorite. Ready? Let's saddle up and go.
Please read through everything at least once before you start. First list is all the ingredients. After that I've individually described the various components of the dish. And finally, the way to put them all together.
Stein’s Shrimp and Lobster Sauce (serves four) Ingredients ¾ lb shrimp (reserve shells) ½ lb ground pork 2 cloves minced garlic 2 Tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans, un-rinsed and roughly chopped 4 scallions 1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil Oyster sauce 1 teaspoon fish or soy sauce Pinch each salt, black pepper, MSG, 1 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 Cups chicken stock 4 Tablespoons cornstarch 4 large egg whites 1 Tablespoon peanut or Canola oil Prepare the Components For the Aromatics combine … 2 large cloves minced garlic 2 Tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans, roughly chopped (don’t rinse) Whites of four scallions, minced For the Flavor Mix combine… ½ teaspoon Chinese sesame oil A pinch each of salt, sugar, black pepper, and MSG. 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce 1 teaspoon soy or fish sauce For the Shrimp Crisping mix combine… 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon baking soda. For the Thickening Slurry combine… 1/3 cup chicken stock with 4 Tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch. For the Egg White Finish combine… 4 large egg whites with 1 Tablespoon Thickening Slurry. Chop 2 scallion greens and keep separate. For the Sauce Stock combine… 1½ cups chicken stock Reserved shrimp shells 2 green parts of scallions For the Slippery Coating combine… Take about one oz (a shot-glass worth) of egg white from the 4 egg-white-finishing combo, add about ½-teaspoon each of rice wine and sesame oil and 1½ teaspoons cornstarch. Whisk together into a batter. Have all the above components mixed and ready in their individual bowls before starting to cook. To Prepare Set Sauce Stock ingredients to simmering. Fill a 4-quart pot ¾ full with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep on a simmer. Combine shrimp with Crisping Mixture and refrigerate 10 minutes, then add to Slippery Coating and refrigerate additional 20 minutes. Heat wok or large cast-iron pan. When a drop of water sizzles add a tablespoon of peanut oil, swirl and add the ground pork. Stir-fry until no longer pink. 5. Add Aromatics. Continue to toss and stir until fragrant. 6. Pour Sauce Stock through a strainer into the pork/aromatics mixture. Add Flavor Mix, stir well, and reduce heat to a simmer. 7. Increase heat under simmering 4-quart pot of water and bring back to a boil. 8. Add shrimp in Slippery Coating to water and stir to separate. Cover pot, wait 20 seconds and turn off heat. While shrimp steep, increase heat under sauce to a bubbling simmer. 9. Stir up Thickening Slurry, add to sauce and stir constantly until sauce has reached a thick gravy consistency. Stir Egg White Finish (the 4 egg whites). While circling over the wok, pour through the whisk into the simmering sauce. Fold in gently to combine (See video) then turn off the heat. 10. Cover the wok, wait 1 minute, then gently fold the eggs through the sauce once more. The whites should be cooked through from residual heat, still soft but not runny. If not turn heat on to low for a few moments. 11. Remove a shrimp from the water to test for doneness. If it’s not cooked enough to suit, wait another minute or two, then strain out the shrimp and add it to the sauce. 12. Top with chopped reserved green onions. Serve with rice.
"I just love Chinese food. My favorite dish is number 27."
– Clement Attlee