Friday, January 18, 2013

I Can't Believe it's not Lobster.

Recently I went on a hunt for the elusive "fermented black bean" which is actually not a black bean as you would find in Mexican cuisine, but a soy bean. I say elusive because out here in the Southwest, you'll find Mexican black beans more readily than anything dealing with Asian cuisine. Luckily, I was able to purchase a jar at  Nature's Oasis located in Durango, Colorado, but then found out that they were also available at Moonflower Market in Moab, Utah. These are both what would be classified as "health food stores" with Nature's Oasis being much larger and with more variety. Whichever place I choose to be though, it's good knowing they either have what I need, or can get it ordered in for me.

So what does this have to do with lobster, you might be wondering. One of my favorite Chinese dishes is "Shrimp with Lobster Sauce" which comes with the age old question of, "Why is it called lobster sauce when there's no lobster in it?". The name “Lobster Sauce” is taken from the sauce used in a Cantonese dish containing real lobster, “Lobster Cantonese”. The sauce was used in stir fry dishes for its delicious flavor made savory by the use of ground pork and fermented black beans (soy beans). Hence why I was hunting the fermented black beans and my trek to the health food stores.

Enough about my traveling adventure and lets get to the food adventure. By the way, while white or brown rice is good with this dish, Fried Rice adds so much more in taste.

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce


½ cup peas
½ cup diced carrots
¼ cup baby corn
¼ cup straw mushrooms
¼ cup sliced water chestnuts
1/8 cup sliced green onions
Water for steaming
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
4 Tbsp stir fry oil, divided in half
1 tsp fermented black bean paste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ lb ground pork
1 and ½ Tbsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten


Fill a large saucepan halfway with water and bring to boiling; place colander on top of saucepan, fill with peas, carrots, baby corn, mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions; steam until carrots begin to soften and remove colander from saucepan.

Stir fry shrimp in Wok or large skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil, on medium-high heat, until they turn pink; about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. While shrimp are cooking, prepare the lobster sauce by whisking together the black bean paste, garlic, chicken broth, rice wine or sherry and soy sauce; set aside.

Add remaining oil to Wok or skillet and brown the pork; remove. Add the prepared lobster sauce and bring to a boil; whisk in the cornstarch and water to thicken and then mix in sugar. Begin to slowly stream in the beaten egg which will begin to make “egg flowers”; add in the shrimp, pork and steamed vegetables; mix together and let cook an additional 2 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Mary Cokenour
January 18, 2013

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