Sunday, May 22, 2011

Xia Mi Bai Cai (Cabbage with Dried Shrimp)

Cabbage with Dried Shrimp (Xia Mi  Bai  Cai)

While much of Chinese cuisine is intensely flavored, in the mainland subtlety is often reserved for vegetable dishes, where texture and the inherent flavors of the produce predominates.  Cabbage with dried shrimp, a traditional presentation found all over China, can be found south east and west; the slight, briny accent of the preserved seafood is the unique attraction of this dish, so one should take care to purchase a high quality dried shrimp, which varies radically from brand to brand.  Choose shrimp that are uniform in size and color; generally, a bright orange/red orange.
12 oz (315 gms) Napa Cabbage
1 Heap Tab small dried shrimp
1/2 Tab ginger, finely shredded
Salt to taste
1 Tab finely sliced green onion top, for garnish
Prepare shrimp:

Put shrimp in just enough boiling water to cover.  Allow to stand off heat for 30 to 60 minutes.  Reserve 2 Tab shrimp water.  Drain shrimp on paper towel and set aside.
Core and separate the cabbage.  Cut across the leaves, in 2” slices.  Heat wok to med high, add 2 or 3 Tab peanut oil, and stir fry ginger for a few seconds.  Add shrimp, and stir fry a few seconds, until “bouncing” and fragrant, then toss in Cabbage.  Add a couple of pinches of coarse salt, and Stir-fry the cabbage until it just begins to wilt, then add reserved shrimp water and cover.  Allow to steam for 1 or 2 minutes, until green portion of leaves have softened but the white portion is still crisp.  Taste a piece of leaf for desired saltiness, adjust if necessary, and lift out the ingredients to a plate.  There will be several tablespoons of juice left in the wok, and some of this can be spooned over the plated dish; however, the water in the cabbage is now releasing and will puddle in the serving plate, so do this reservedly, if at all.  Garnish with green onion.

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