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Shrimp Stir-Fry with Sticky Rice (Chinese Five Spice)

A classic seasoning, Chinese five spice lends sweet, tangy, bitter and savory flavors to this shrimp stir-fry. Our version of the blend combines fragrant star anise with Szechuan pepper, cinnamon, cloves and fennel seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Thai sticky rice
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 green onions, white and light green portions, minced
  • 2 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red Fresno chili or green jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • Canola oil for deep-frying, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbs. Chinese rice wine, sake or sherry

Directions:

In a colander or sieve, rinse the rice 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a bowl and add enough cool water to cover the rice by 2 to 3 inches. Let stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.

Drape a large piece of cheesecloth over a colander, pour the rice into the center, and gather the cheesecloth together at the top to completely contain the rice. Place inside the bamboo steamer of a sticky rice pot.

Meanwhile, pour 6 to 8 cups water into the metal base of the steamer and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the bamboo steamer inside the metal base, making sure the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the steamer. Cover the cheesecloth-enclosed rice with an 8-inch lid and steam the rice until tender, about 45 minutes.

Remove the lid and, using tongs, transfer the cheesecloth-enclosed rice to a serving bowl. Carefully unfold the cheesecloth and place the rice in the bowl.

Meanwhile, prepare the stir-fry: In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, cornstarch, white pepper and 1⁄2 tsp. of the salt until smooth. Set the batter aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the green onions, ginger, garlic and chili. In another small bowl, stir together the Chinese five spice, the remaining 1⁄2 tsp. salt, the sugar and black pepper. Set both mixtures aside.

In a wok or deep saucepan over high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 370°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Using tongs, dip the shrimp into the batter, letting the excess drip into the bowl, then slide the shrimp into the hot oil. Repeat with 4 or 5 more shrimp; do not crowd the pan. Deep-fry until the batter is light golden brown and the shrimp just turn orange, about 30 seconds. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the shrimp to paper towels. Repeat to fry the remaining shrimp; between batches, allow the oil to return to 370°F and remove the browned bits of batter from the oil.

In another wok or large fry pan over medium heat, warm the 2 Tbs. oil. When the oil is hot, add the green onion mixture and sauté until fragrant, about 10 seconds. While tossing and stirring constantly, add the five spice mixture. Sprinkle in the rice wine and stir-fry for a few seconds, scraping up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the fried shrimp and stir-fry until well coated with the spice mixture and heated through.

Transfer the shrimp to a warmed platter and serve immediately with the sticky rice. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from a recipe by Williams-Sonoma.