Spicy pepper shrimp stir-fry with a perfect blend of spices, garlic, and spring onions. The ingredients are simple, the flavor is BIG. Taiwan really knows how to make seafood shine! This dish is a classic shrimp recipe in Taiwan, and it only takes 10 minutes to whip up. Great with rice, noodles or a perfect drinking snack.
Taiwan is a small island, fishing is in our culture and seafood is a staple in our diets. I used to eat a lot of seafood until I learned to dive and saw how much of our ocean resource is dying. Having been snorkeling every year since I was 5, the view underwater has changed drastically and it’s sad. (Probably the reason why I start crying every time I watch Moana.) To me, the ocean is HOME. I feel the most comfortable when I’m in it or near it.
Now the ocean is full of plastic waste, dying corals and not a lot of fish. I realized that I’d rather see the “seafood” in the sea than on my plate as food. When we were diving, it was ridiculously hard to spot an octopus, a lobster, or a shrimp, it just didn’t feel right seeing them on my plate regularly without any effort. I decided that I was going to stop eating seafood, as much as I can. I’ll only eat what I catch myself and very occasionally farmed freshwater fish or shrimp.
Where to get the best shrimp in Rochester MN
It was unexpected to see fresh shrimp at the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market, shrimp in Minnesota was something I would never have imagined. We decided to get some and try them, and it is super delicious! The shrimp has a good, bouncy texture; it’s fresh and super sweet. I don’t like shrimp very often, but this I can do. It is perfect for this recipe, the spiciness brings out the sweetness even more.
These shrimp are fresh, not frozen, which makes a HUGE difference in taste and texture. Go to Kedron Valley Farm for more information. (NO AFFILIATION, just really LOVE their shrimp)
How Pepper Shrimp was Invented
The origin of this recipe dates back to the 70s, when Taiwan started to raise Thai freshwater prawns(泰國蝦). It wasn’t gaining popularity fast enough so farmers opened up their ponds to the public for recreational fishing. That became a popular leisure activity in Taiwan, ponds turned into concrete pools in the middle of the city with these prawns in for people to fish(or shrimp?). Fishing for shrimps/prawns and eating them got so popular every shrimp fishing pool wanted to attract more customers by creating the tastiest shrimp recipes. (Excuse me for mixing shrimp and prawns, they’re all the same in Chinese, we differentiate them by actual names.) This is when pepper shrimp was invented. Shrimping + friends + beer + tasty shrimp dishes that’s gonna help you drink more beer = fantastic time.
White pepper is a commonly used spice in Taiwan. White pepper is made from fully ripe pepper berries. They are soaked in water for about 10 days, leading to fermentation. Then their skins are removed, which also removes some of the hot piperine compound, as well as volatile oils and compounds that give black pepper its aroma. As a result, white pepper has a different flavor and heat component than black pepper. Don’t be fooled, it’s still spicy. White pepper is often combined with cinnamon, cumin, star anise, Szechuan pepper, and cloves (5 sipce) to create a spice mix dip that goes with numerous dishes. It’s spicy, aromatic and super delicious and that’s the base for the pepper shrimp.
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- 1 lb Fresh Shrimp or Prawn
- 6 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1" Piece of Ginger Finely Chopped
- 4 Sprigs of Spring Onion Chopped
- 1/4 C Rice Wine or sub with 1/8C Vodka + 1/8C Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt or to taste
- 1 TBsp Ground White Pepper
- 1/2 TBsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice or see instructions on making your own
- 1/2 tsp Ground Saigon Cinnamon
Homemade 5 Spice
- Blend together into a powder・ 1 Star Anise・ 2tsp Szechuan Peppercorn・ 1" Stick of cinnamon ・ 1/2tsp Cumin・ 1/2tsp Clove
Clean the shrimp
- Devein the shrimp, cut the back open but leave the shells on
Cooking the Shrimp
- Heat up 1 TBsp of oil, add the minced garlic, finely chopped ginger (Chili if desired). Stir for 10 seconds
- Add the spices, stir on medium heat until fragrant. About 10 Seconds
- Add the shrimp, salt, and the rice wine, mix and coat the shrimp with spices evenly
- Stir constantly until all the shrimp turn red and the sauce is reduced and dried
- Taste, add more salt if necessary. Add the green onions, turn the heat off and mix well
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