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Pairing Wine with Chinese Food, Part 1 – Kung Pao Shrimp & Gewurztraminer

Although Gewurztraminer (pronounced ge-vur-stra-mee-ner) can eventually grow tiresome under the weight of the sweet lychee and peppery notes that the grape is known for, this wine can be a nice treat once in a while, especially when properly paired with the right food. When you do decide to pick up a bottle, whether Alsatian or one of wineries in the Niagara peninsula, there are few dishes better to pair it with than Kung Pao Chicken, or in this case, Shrimp. This signature Sichuan favourite goes with Gewurtz as naturally as a Bordeaux and a blue-rare steak.

Whenever you cook Sichuan dishes, it’s basically 100% active time. You prep, then you stir-fry, then you eat. I didn’t time it exactly, but this dish took about 3/4 of the length through Ryan Adam’s album Demolition, which I hadn’t heard in a while, so that was a nice added treat.

Kung Pao Shrimp

1) Peel and devain about a dozen large tiger shrimp, and reserve in a medium size bowl. Authentic Chinese shrimp dishes leave the shell on, but you will likely find this unappealing.

2) Mix the following marinade into a small bowl, then pour in with the shrimp and sit for about 20 minutes:

Marinade:

salt, 1/2 tsp
light soy sauce, 2 tsp
rice wine (or sherry), 1 tsp
potato flour (or corn starch), 2 tsp
water, 1 tbsp

Sauce

3) Mix into a bowl and set aside:

sugar, 2 tbsp
potato flour (or corn starch), 1 tsp
light soy sauce, 2 tsp
black chinese vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar), 3 tsp
chicken stock or water, 1 tbsp

4) thinly slice the following, and set aside:

Garlic, 3 cloves
Ginger, the same quantity as the cloves
Scallions (green onions), the white part only, 5 or 6 of them

Don’t start cooking until you have all the ingredients prepped and placed in bowls.

Now you’re ready to start cooking…

5) put about 2 tbsp of oil (peanut, canola, or vegetable) in a wok and on high heat, then add both:

-a handful of “facing heaven” chilis, split in half and deseeded. you might want to wear gloves for this, and if you don’t make sure you don’t touch your eyes or any part of your body until you have thoroughly gotten the residue off your hands. I have made this painful mistake on more than one occasion.
-sichuan peppercorns (or “flower peppers”), 1 tsp

6) after the chilis and peppercorns are crisp (don’t burn them, and don’t be scared to remove the wok from the heat if you are worried they will), about 30 seconds, add, and constantly stir for about 3-4 minutes until the shrimp is cooked through:

-the marinaded shrimp
-garlic, ginger, and scallions

7) Give the sauce a quick stir to break up the starch formed on the bottom, and add to the wok

7)when the sauce becomes thick, add:

roasted peanuts, 3/4 cup.

8 ) serve immediately.

I also made another Sichuan vegetable dish “dry-fried green beans” (see photo), but one recipe is enough for today.

The Wine

I personally find VQA Gewurztraminer wines to be less peppery and sweet than their Alsatian counterparts, so I’ve gone with a Hillebrand wine that is nice, and afforable at 11-something from the LCBO.


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