Savoring Shrimp in Opulent ‘Lobster’ Sauce

July 20, 2023

Demystifying the Culinary Enigma

On laying eyes upon savoring shrimp in opulent lobster sauce, the imagination often runs wild with visions of juicy shrimp harmonizing with luxurious lobster chunks. However, the dish intriguingly omits lobster. Yet, its widespread adoration in countless Chinese restaurants isn’t marred by this absence. Instead, it shines with delectable shrimp complemented by a sumptuous sauce featuring eggs and pork. The best part? You’re spared the hefty lobster price tag. With just a pinch of prep, this gourmet treat can adorn your dining setup in a swift ten minutes, enchanting every palate.

Why “Lobster Sauce” without Lobster?

A natural query arises – why christen it ‘Lobster Sauce’ when lobster’s nowhere in sight? Was it an ingenious marketing ploy by a Chinese restaurateur? Or did it originally house lobster, which had to retreat due to soaring costs? It’s believed that the sauce’s genesis lies in the ancient Lobster Cantonese recipe, which was later adapted with the budget-friendly shrimp. Though the more modern Cantonese-style Ginger Scallion Lobster has overshadowed its predecessor, die-hard fans still await its revival. Stay tuned; when lobsters reign the seas again, we’ll bring the classic Lobster Cantonese back to our blog!

A Culinary Trip Down Memory Lane

Warm summer nights in the Catskills resort town witnessed my rendezvous with endless batches of shrimp in lobster sauce. The buzzing Chinese eatery of my teenage years, spearheaded by my chef father, often echoed with the sizzle of two simultaneously running woks. This dish, undeniably, was a star. Featured as a pièce de résistance in the enigmatic “Polynesian Luau for Two” (the intricate bond between Polynesia and American-Chinese takeout remains a mystery to me), it stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the iconic roast pork fried rice. The day my companions Sarah and Kaitlin relished it, I was reacquainted with its timeless charm. If you’re on a hunt for an avant-garde shrimp dish, our Scallion Ginger Shrimp or the audacious Hunan Steamed Shrimp awaits. But for now, let’s rekindle the classic!

Essential Components

  • 8 oz. succulent shrimp (Approximately 10 pieces; 225g)
  • 4 oz. finely ground pork (110g)
  • 2 tablespoons of wholesome vegetable oil
  • 1 fragrant garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon of aromatic Shaoxing wine (or a splash of cooking sherry)
  • 1 1/2 cups of rejuvenating low sodium chicken stock
  • A hint of sesame oil (1/2 teaspoon)
  • A sprinkle of sugar (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Seasoning salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground white pepper (to your liking)
  • ½ cup of vibrant frozen peas
  • A mix of 2 tablespoons cornstarch (melded with 2 tablespoons water for a smooth slurry)
  • 1 wholesome egg (lightly whisked)
  • 1 crisp scallion (finely chopped)

Bringing the Delight to Life

  1. Commence by prepping the shrimp: peel and rid them of veins. In your trusty wok, usher in 2 cups of water to a boil, introducing the ground pork next. Disintegrate any clusters and cook till it adopts a non-pink hue. A mesh strainer will help you drain the pork, ensuring a rinse that promises a pristine sauce.
  2. Reacquaint your washed wok with medium-high heat. Marry the vegetable oil, garlic, pork, and shrimp in a stirring waltz for about 10-20 seconds. As the wine enters the fray, let the ensemble frolic for an added 10 seconds. The chicken stock, sesame oil, sugar, salt, and white pepper come next, followed by the peas.
  3. As a simmer is attained, usher in the cornstarch slurry incrementally. Seek a consistency that clings lovingly to a spoon, without the icky stickiness. Balance with chicken stock or more slurry as needed.
  4. Drizzle the whisked egg and sprinkle the scallions, letting it stew for about five heartbeats. A few spatula moves, and you fold the egg into the sauce seamlessly. A bed of white rice is all you need to showcase this masterpiece.

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