12.02.2017

Par for the (Nine) Courses

Soon after we moved to Tucson, we were invited to a birthday party for a small child… she was turning two years old. She was born into a very traditional Chinese family and, from what we understood, a child’s second birthday is very significant.

More than a hundred people attended. We were seated at a table of ten that included a couple of University of Arizona professors whom we knew. Lucky for us, the husband is Chinese, and the wife Korean, so they could guide us through the beautiful traditions unfamiliar to us.

She asked if we had ever attended a Chinese banquet before. When we said we had not, she patted my hand and said, “We will get you through this.” Get us through? What on earth was going to happen to us?

Well, it turns out that the Chinese banquet is, in part, an exercise in pacing and strategy. She told us that there would be nine course, not including desert. “Eat sparingly! When you see the vegetable come out,” she said - in this case, braised bok choy - “the meal is done.” Room for dessert anyone?

As promised, the courses started arriving one after another. They were set out on a large built-in lazy Susan in the middle of the table, so everyone could have easy access. Appetizer-sized choices came first, then fried rice, then a beef course, then chicken, crispy Peking duck… almost every preparation was unfamiliar - all were flavorful, and beautifully presented. And it seemed never-ending!

Just a dish or two prior to the bok choy, was my favorite of all the dishes: Honey Walnut Shrimp. And that is today’s recipe. I found it online years ago and, while I would like to give credit where it is due, I can't tell you the provenance, or if it's even close to the authenticity we enjoyed that special day.

We paired this with a white Côtes du Rhone recommended by our local chef, Doug Levy at Feast. You can read about the pairing this month’s “Wine with Food” column in the Provence WineZine.

But it's good, and I hope you enjoy it.

~ David

Honey Walnut Shrimp

1 cup water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup walnuts
4 egg whites
2/3 cup rice flour
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and dried
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons canned sweetened condensed milk
vegetable oil for frying
white rice, for serving


Stir together the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the walnuts. Boil for 2 minutes, then drain and place walnuts on a cookie sheet to dry.

Whip egg whites in a medium bowl until foamy. Stir in the rice flour until it has a pasty consistency; it will be very thick. Heat at least 1/4 inch oil in a heavy deep skillet over medium-high heat. Place peeled and dried shrimp into the rice flour batter, toss to coat, and then fry in the hot oil until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

In a medium serving bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, honey and sweetened condensed milk. Add shrimp and toss to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle the candied walnuts on top and serve.


Serves 4.

Notes
- The shrimp must be very dry for the batter to adhere.
- If you are not a fan of walnuts, try this with blanched whole almonds.




34 comments:

  1. Oh David, this shrimp looks so good! I've ordered honey walnut shrimp once or twice when we've gone to Chinese restaurants and I love it too. I probably would have never tried to make it on my own, though. So glad to have your recipe! Evan will love it too.

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    1. Marcelle - it was fun to make, and I am glad I searched the recipe online. All the versions I found out there are identical...

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  2. This maybe the only shrimp I ever eat ...it looks amazing.

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  3. What a fascinating experience for you and great lesson for us! Being very used to the Japanese rather than Chinese version, am used to rice rather than a vegetable being the last course ere any dessert being served. And one better not have too large a portion of that 'cause that would mean the main meal had left one hungry :) ! Must admit I have never had a Chinese prawn dish with mayonnaise and condensed milk!! Wonder whether this is a US/Chinese fusion dish as have never seen such either in Australia or SE Asia either? Looks appetizing tho' :) !!

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    1. I will have to ask my friends, Eha - I have to assume that with mayo and the milk that it is a US-created recipe. I love that you call it fusion! Also, I am glad to know about the rice in a Japanese meal - always good to have the etiquette down before jumping in!

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  4. I've heard tale of these massive Chinese celebrations. I've even witnessed one or two at restaurants. But I've never been invited. I guess I could use this recipe and throw my own extravaganza, but I wonder if I'd have the energy to pull off 9 courses... GREG

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    1. There is no way I could pull the 9 course off, Greg. But it would be fun to try!

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  5. What an amazing experience! I hadn't even heard of this. The shrimp look great!

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    1. Thanks, Inger! I love shrimp and am so glad I am finding ones sourced in the U.S.!

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  6. Wow, what a fantastic experience that banquet must have been! It sounds great and I love the sound of this recipe - do you think it would work with chicken?

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    1. I think it's definitely worth trying with chicken, Caroline! Let me know if you do try it - and what you think!

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  7. A Chinese banquet sounds wonderful but I don’t know if I can get through it. Your shrimp looks delicious.

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    1. Thanks, Gerlinde! I am loving your photos of Germany!

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  8. That's interesting- using sweetened condensed milk in a Chinese recipe!The shrimp dish certainly look delicious- just add a few 'dim sum' to the banquet and I'd be in seventh heaven. BTW, I signed up for your blog but didn't get an email regarding your latest post. Maybe I'll try signing up again!

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    1. Thanks, Fran! I checked the subscription list and you are there but “unverified.” When you signed up, you should have received an email asking you to confirm - or verify - your subscription. You need to click on that link to complete the process! Thanks for subscribing!

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    2. Got it! I now verified my subscription. You said that you subscribed to my blog but I don't see your name on my list. Did you receive a follow-up email requesting a confirmation?

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    3. Hi Fran - I am glad the verification worked. You should see an email Saturday/Sunday/Monday (not sure how it works timing-wise with emails to Australia!).

      I did sign up for your posts - twice now, but never got the confirmation email. I will try again.

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  9. Wow! Looks delicious. I never made this recipe before. I should try one!

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  10. Hi David, nine courses.....wow! sounds memorable for sure. Honey walnut shrimp is a dish I believe we both would adore. Happy Holidays!!

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    1. Thanks, Cheri! It was the only time I have had Peking Duck, so it was indeed memorable! Hope your holidays are going well.

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  11. Although I never blog about it, I'm a great lover of Chinese food. I probably eat it as often as I do Italian believe it or not, though mostly in restaurants. We are lucky around here to have a good number of excellent, authentic Chinese places. I do occasionally try my hand at Chinese cookery at home—and this might well be next up on my to do list. It looks delicious!

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    1. Frank - every time I get to the DC area I return home with pangs of jealously - for all the excellent international restaurants you have. I might eat out more if I lived there!

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  12. This is the first time I've seen condensed milk and shrimp in the same ingredients list. And mayo, for that matter. I'm very curious about this one!

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    1. It is very curious and I have only seen in in Tucson - is it local, or was I just never aware of it before? It is pretty tasty, though, John - even as odd a combination as it has!

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  13. What an interesting list of ingredients I’m definitely intrigued.

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    1. Thanks, Emma - they are definitely not the usual ingredients!

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  14. It is not quite 10am here in Provence and I am already ravenous. Well done!

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    1. Well, bonjour Centime! I am glad my post has inspired your hunger! :)

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  15. That's a beautiful wine label! I don't drink much wine but really enjoyed your wine blog.

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    1. Thanks, Caterina! I hate to admit but I often buy wine if the label is pretty!

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  16. I'd love to cook more Asian dishes! That's one area that I lack in experience and would just love to expand my knowledge and skill. I've never had a dish like this one, but it looks so good!

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    1. It took me a while to lose my fear of cooking Asian - now we do it all the time!

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