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Mouthwatering Xia Jiang: Shrimp Simmered in a Spicy Sauce

Mouthwatering Xia Jiang: Shrimp Simmered in a Spicy Sauce

A Sichuan Delight: Rediscovering the Flavors of Shanghai

Growing up in Shanghai, I have vivid memories of the night markets, where the air was thick with the tantalizing aromas of sizzling street food. Among the many delectable offerings, one dish always stood out: Xia Jiang, or shrimp simmered in a spicy sauce. This mouthwatering creation was the stuff of legends, and to this day, it remains one of my favorite Shanghai specialties.

Unraveling the Secrets of Xia Jiang

The origins of Xia Jiang can be traced back to the Sichuan province, where the bold and assertive flavors of Sichuan cuisine have captivated taste buds for centuries. According to That Spicy Chick, the Sichuan version of this dish, known as “Gan Shao Xia,” is “quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes and EXPLODING with flavor.” The key lies in the interplay of juicy jumbo shrimp and a lip-smacking, garlicky, and spicy sauce.

The Sauce: Harmony in a Bowl

The sauce is the true star of Xia Jiang, and it’s a masterful blend of aromatic and bold flavors. That Spicy Chick’s recipe calls for a combination of Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang (a fermented bean paste), Shao Xing rice wine, and pure sesame oil, which create a symphony of umami, salty, and nutty notes. The addition of fresh chilies and pickled chilies sauce lends a fiery kick, while the spring onions and ginger provide a refreshing counterpoint.

The Shrimp: Juicy and Succulent

The shrimp, of course, are the true heroes of this dish. As That Spicy Chick suggests, the key to achieving the perfect texture is to gently pat the shrimp dry after peeling and deveining, removing the shell, head, tail, and inner tract. This ensures that the shrimp remain juicy and succulent, without any wateriness that could dilute the flavors.

Bringing Xia Jiang to Life

Now, let’s dive into the process of creating this mouthwatering dish. It’s a true testament to the power of simplicity and quality ingredients.

Step 1: Marinating the Shrimp

The first step is to marinate the shrimp in a simple mixture of Shao Xing rice wine, sesame oil, and a pinch of salt. This not only infuses the shrimp with a subtle, aromatic flavor but also helps to tenderize them, ensuring they remain juicy and succulent throughout the cooking process.

Step 2: Searing the Shrimp

Once the shrimp are marinated, it’s time to sear them in a hot wok or skillet. The key is to cook them until they’re almost cooked through, but still slightly underdone. This will prevent them from becoming rubbery or overcooked later in the process.

Step 3: Crafting the Sauce

With the shrimp seared and set aside, it’s time to work on the sauce. The first step is to sauté the Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang in the hot oil, allowing it to release its fragrant aromas. Then, it’s time to add the aromatics – spring onions, garlic, ginger, and fresh and pickled chilies – and let them sizzle and mingle, creating a captivating scent that will have your mouth watering.

Step 4: Bringing it All Together

Finally, it’s time to add the sauce ingredients, including more Shao Xing rice wine, sesame oil, and a touch of sugar to balance the heat. As the sauce simmers and thickens, the shrimp are added back in, allowing them to soak up all the incredible flavors. A final toss with the dark green parts of the spring onions adds a fresh, vibrant note to the dish.

Savoring the Moments

As the dish is transferred to a serving plate, the aroma of Xia Jiang fills the air, beckoning you to dive in. The shimmering sauce coats the plump, juicy shrimp, and the first bite is an explosion of flavors – the heat of the chilies, the depth of the fermented bean paste, the nuttiness of the sesame oil, and the freshness of the spring onions, all seamlessly blending together.

But the true magic of Xia Jiang lies in the way it makes you feel. Each bite transports you back to the bustling night markets of Shanghai, where the world-famous flavors of Sichuan cuisine are celebrated with relish. It’s a dish that, with every mouthful, reminds you of the power of food to connect us to our roots, our memories, and the vibrant cultures that have shaped our culinary heritage.

So, if you’re ready to embark on a culinary journey to the heart of Shanghai, I invite you to visit the One Dragon Restaurant and indulge in the mouthwatering delights of Xia Jiang. Let the flavors transport you, and may each bite be a testament to the enduring legacy of Shanghai’s culinary wonders.



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