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Have you ever been to this Chinese restaurant in NYC called Congee Village? I like ordering a bunch of dishes and sharing, so Congee Village is the perfect place to do just that. My favorite dish there is jumbo prawns with mayo and candied walnuts. The combination of textures and flavors in this dish is awesome, and it makes me so hungry just thinking about it!
On New Year’s Eve, I enjoyed a quiet evening with some friends. We had gone to Congee Village a few weeks prior, so I thought it would be fun to have a Chinese themed dinner. We feasted on hot and sour soup, beef chow fun, watercress sauteed in garlic, spare pork ribs, and my version of the prawns with mayo dish. I’ll post a recipe for beef chow fun a bit later.
I purchased 2 pounds of large shrimp for $7.49 per pound. I was supposed to use jumbo prawns, but they were not available in my neighborhood. I could have bought the already cleaned ones but why pay more when you don’t have to?
I had some help peeling and de-veining the shrimp, thankfully. For the inside, Dan ran a pairing knife across the vein, and it easily came out. For the back, he used a toothpick to pull the vein out in one smooth movement. Be sure to keep a bowl of ice water as you do this so that the shrimp stays cold.
While doing some research for this recipe, I realized that not a lot of people had attempted this before. Thankfully, Cooking of Joy had kindly posted a recipe, so I was happy to have some reference to confirm my suspicions. I skipped battering of the shrimp because it was an extra step I didn’t feel was necessary. But for those of you who want to, I’ve included optional instructions below.
I would suggest candying the walnuts in advance so that you have one less thing to worry about on the day you make this. I was amazed and how well the walnut and shrimp kept its shape even two days later. I reheated it and it was still as delicious.
Recipe: Jumbo Shrimp with Mayo and Candied Walnuts
Adapted from Cooking of Joy
Makes 8 servings
1 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of broccoli crowns, cut into 1″ pieces
2 pounds of large or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk
1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
*1.5 cups of cornstarch (optional)
*If you want to batter the shrimp for extra crunch, just place 1.5 cups of cornstarch on a plate and coat the shrimp on both sides. Then proceed to deep frying.
1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add walnuts and boil for 3 minutes. Repeat until water is no longer gray colored. (This is to clean the walnuts and also to add a nice shine, since the walnuts tend to be very dry.)
2. Drain water from the pot. Pat walnuts dry with paper towels.
3. Heat up a frying pan with no oil over medium heat. Add walnuts. You should hear a sizzle. Stir until the walnuts are no longer wet, about 5 minutes. Work in batches if you need to.
4. Lower heat. Add sugar to the pan. Stir until walnuts become glossy and gooey, about 7-8 minutes. Set aside.
5. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add broccoli and cook until the color is bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately. Drain and transfer to a plate.
6. Mix mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.
7. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan until very hot. Add walnuts and fry until golden. Quickly remove from oil, it should only take about 10 seconds each.
8. Once you’re done with walnuts, add shrimp to the same oil and fry until golden brown. You will immediately see the shrimp changing color from grey to pink. I used less oil so I needed to flip them; just watch for color changes and remove from oil.
9. Add shrimp to mayonnaise mixture.
10. Sprinkle with walnuts and transfer to the middle of the dish with wall of broccoli. Serve immediately.