I really, really love shrimp.
Steamed Shrimp with Ginger and Green Onions
(In Malaysia, we know them as prawns. Shrimp. Prawns. What’s the difference, really?)
My mom used to put shrimp in almost everything–wontons, stirfry veggies, fried rice, noodles and of course straight up shrimp dishes like this steamed prawns dish. These days, my growing conscience on how shrimp is farmed and harvested stops me from enjoying them as often. I even tried giving them up altogether at one time but it was just too hard.
Eating Shrimp in Port Klang
Everytime I eat this particular steamed shrimp dish, I’m reminded of how much I LOVE this dish. We didn’t used to cook this at home. Our family always had a huge seafood meal every so often at a seafood restaurant(mainly for special occasions or when we had guests or family visiting) .
We would drive down to Port Klang, a city about an hour’s drive West from KL and indulge in all things seafood. I remember that we would order several dishes and always end with huge platters of crab. There would be some noodle dishes to start with, then oh chien (oyster omelette), steamed fish, some clams, lala or other shellfish, then steamed shrimp and finally two styles of crab (sweet sour chilli crab being one of them).
I remember one time that I insisted on ordering this steamed shrimp dish. We had ordered a lot of dishes and it was just the family for a change (with no extra guests) and my parents felt that we could forego this dish. But I really love this more than anything else (yes, even more than crab) and insisted! So they ordered it but they were not happy with me.
So as the meal progressed, everyone got more and more full until the only dishes left were the steamed shrimp and the crabs. My dad said to me that since I had insisted on this dish, I would have to finish this as no one else wanted to eat it since they were saving room for the crab. I said, “Fine!” and as soon as the plate of shrimp was served, I dug in.
Believe it or not, I polished off the entire plate of shrimp, sucking up all the yummy juices and flavors and enjoying every “bursty bouncy” (Jaden’s English term for the texture of perfectly cooked shrimp) bite of sweet, fresh shrimp. I think my mom snuck a couple of pieces after watching me enjoying the dish. My dad and brothers were incredulous that I actually managed to finish it all. Of course, I didn’t eat one bit of crab after that but I was smug that I had not wasted the dish like they were expecting me to.
Bringing it Home
Anyway, these days, I just make it at home and it’s just as good. In our home, when this dish is cooked, we all fight for every single shrimp. There are never any leftovers.
For the shrimp, do choose those with the head on. It makes the dish tastier somehow. The rest of the ingredients are pretty simple–ginger, green onions, oyster sauce, Shao Xing wine (chinese rice wine), white pepper, and one egg.
I really don’t know the purpose of the egg in this dish, but I know we fight over that one steamed egg in the middle. The yolk is barely cooked when you take the steamed shrimp dish out of the steamer. When the yolk is broken, it oozes out and melds with the juices of the shrimp and the oyster sauce to create a savory, velvety sauce (more on that later).
Alright, on to the recipe!
Steamed shrimp with ginger and green onions
1/2 lb large (30-36 count) head-on shrimp, trim off excess antennae
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely julienned
2 green onions, diced
2 Tbsp premium oyster sauce (we like the Lee Kum Kee brand, and please pay attention that it is the premium quality one)
2 tsp Shao Xing cooking wine
a few dashes of white pepper
1. Prepare steamer or wok and let water come to boil.
2. Arrange shrimp in a circle around pie plate.
3. Break egg into center of shrimp platter.
4. Scatter ginger all around the shrimp.
5. Sprinkle oyster sauce and shao xing wine all around shrimp. Cover with dashes of white pepper.
6. Place platter into steamer and steam for 6-8 minutes or until shrimp have turned a bright pink. Make sure not to overcook shrimp.
7. Remove from steamer and garnish with green onions.
Steamed Shrimp with Ginger and Green Onions
Here’s how you eat this Steamed Shrimp dish:
Step 1: break the head off the body and suck all the yummy shrimp goodness out of the head. Cholesterol? What cholesterol?
Step 2: suck the rest of the sauce off the body’s shell, then peel.
Step 3: recoat the peeled shrimp in the egg yolk, shrimp juice and oyster sauce before devouring said shrimp.
Step 4: repeat until there’s nothing left.
Step 5: lick fingers clean and vow to double recipe next time!