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Stir-Fried Shrimp and Snow Peas
in Bird's Nest



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Stir-Fried Shrimp and Snow Peas
in Bird’s Nest

The Best of Gourmet, Vol. 1

from the Editors of Gourmet,
1986, Condé Nast Books, Random House


1/4 cup dried wood ears or
tree ears [mushrooms]

For the shrimp
1 1/2 pounds (about 42) shrimp,
shelled, deveined, rinsed, and
squeezed dry in a dish towel
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup Chinese Chicken Broth (recipe follows)
or canned chicken broth
3 tablespoons rice wine or Scotch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups vegetable oil, preferably safflower or corn oil
2 ounces rice vermicelli, broken into small handfuls
3 tablespoons minced scallion
2 tablespoons minced peeled gingerroot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 pound snow peas, strings discarded, blanched
for 1 second in boiling water, drained, refreshed
under cold water, and patted dry
A 15-ounce can baby corn, drained, blanched
in boiling water for 5 seconds, drained, refreshed
under cold water, and halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons Oriental sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

In a small bowl let the wood ears soak in 2 cups hot water for 20 minutes,
or until they are soft and spongy, and drain them. Cut off and discard any
hard edges and chop the wood ears. The wood ears may be prepared up
to this point 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.
Prepare the shrimp:
In a bowl combine the shrimp, the cornstarch, the egg white, and the salt, stirring vigorously in one direction until the shrimp are coated well with the mixture, and chill the shrimp, covered, for at least 30 minutes. The shrimp may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance
and kept covered tightly and chilled.
Make the sauce:
In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch n the broth and
add the rice wine, the soy sauce, the sugar, and the salt.
Heat a wok over high heat until it is hot, add the vegetable oil, and heat it
until a deep-fat thermometer registers 425 degrees F. Add a handful of the
rice vermicelli and fry it for 1 to 2 seconds, or until it puffs and turns white. (The noodles will splutter and expand rapidly.) Transfer the noodles with a
wire skimmer as they are fried to paper towels to drain, and fry and drain
the remaining noodles in the same manner. The noodles may be fried up to
2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag in
a cool, dry place. Just before serving, break up the noodles and arrange
them in a large nest on a platter.
Pour off all but 1 cup of the oil in the wok and heat the remaining oil over
high heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 380 degrees F. Add the
shrimp and stir-fry them for 1 minute, or until they separate and turn pink.
Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a large sieve set over a bowl.
The shrimp may be prepared up to this point 4 hours in advance and kept
in a bowl, covered and chilled. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil
from the wok and heat the remaining oil over high heat until it is just
smoking. Add the scallion, gingerroot, and the garlic and stir-fry the mix-
ture for 5 seconds, or until it is fragrant. Add the wood ears and stir-fry
the mixture for 5 seconds. Stir the sauce, add it to the wok, stirring, and
bring it to a boil, stirring. Add the snow peas, the corn, and the shrimp
and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute, or until it is heated through.
Drizzle the mixture with the sesame oil and the vinegar, toss it, and
mound it in the center of the noodle nest. Serves 8.

Chinese Chicken Broth

6 pounds chicken wings and backs
3/4 cup rice wine or Scotch
8 large slices of gingerroot, each about 1/8 inch
thick, flattened with the side of a cleaver
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Cut the chicken wings at the joints into thirds, discard the loose fat from the backs, and chop the backs into large pieces. In a kettle of boiling water blanch the chicken for 1 minute, drain it in a large colander, and rinse it under cold water. Rinse out the kettle, return the chicken to it, and add the rice wine, the gingerroot, the salt, and 24 cups cold water. Bring the liquid to a boil, skimming the froth, for 3 hours. Strain the broth through a large sieve lines with a triple thickness of cheesecloth into a large bowl. Let the broth cool completely, uncovered, chill it, and remove the fat. The broth may be made up to 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled, or it may be frozen.
Makes about 12 cups.

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