Alex Zhong, the owner and chef of “Asia” restaurant in Allentown, PA, demonstrates a typical Chinese dish from the northeast region of China: “Braised Prawns in Sweet Tomato Sauce“.
Although northeast cuisine, or “Dongbei” food, is not among the “eight culinary traditions” of China, it is nothing short of genuine comfort food from the north, and has so much to offer.
The northeast region of China stretches from Beijing to Siberia. Due to harsh climate conditions in this region, locals prefer foods that are hearty and earthy, making Dongbei food one of your ideal options on a frigid winter day, or for large group gathering. Ingredients here may not be fancy, but they often excel in quality. Simple ingredients such as Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage) and potato taste excellent, and there’s plenty of fresh “mountain delights” like mushrooms and mountain vegetables.
Because the northeast region borders Russia on the north, Korea on the east and the ocean on the south, local cuisine has absorbed the culinary characteristics from these different cultures and seafood is commonly seen in the coastal areas.
Braised Prawns in Sweet Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
- Tomato sauce (or fresh tomatoes)
- Light soy sauce
- Soup stock
- Shrimp juice/shrimp oil
Braised Prawns in Sweet Tomato Sauce Directions:
- Chop scallion and ginger into slices, set aside for later.
- Pick two shrimp, fold the bodies of the shrimp and secure with toothpicks, and set aside. They will be the “center-piece” on the serving plate.
- In the wok, heat the oil to a high temperature. First, fry the two shrimp briefly until there’s a thin golden crust. Scoop them out and set aside for later.
- Fry the rest of the shrimp. Scoop them out.
- With oil still in the wok, turn down the heat, and fry the shrimp for a second time. Scoop them out.
- In an empty wok, add scallion and ginger slices. Sauté until fragrant. Add tomato sauce (or chopped tomato), soup stock, shrimp juice/oil, and sugar.
- Add fried shrimp to the mixture. Add a little starch to thicken the consistency.
- Braise the shrimp on low heat. Use the spatula and lightly press on the shrimp heads, so all the juicy and tasty stuff from the heads is squeezed out.
- Scoop out the shrimp and arrange them nicely on a plate. The two shrimp from before are placed in the center. Reduce the sauce in the wok to a thicker consistency.
- Drip the sauce on top of the shrimp in the plate. And we are ready to enjoy this savory dish!
Braised Prawns in Sweet Tomato Sauce Tips and Traditional Culture:
“Dongbei is rich with natural produce, but most people have only heard about a few local dishes, such as ‘braised pork with vermicelli’ and ‘braised chicken with mushrooms’. But in the three provinces of Dongbei, especially along the coastal regions, there’s plenty of seafood we could use to make dishes,” said Chef Zhong.
Chef Zhong won Silver Medal at the First International Chinese Culinary Competition hosted by NTDTV. He has had nearly 30 years of experience as a chef. He expressed approval for the organization of such events to promote Chinese culinary culture: “Many of my friends encouraged me to compete in the International Chinese Culinary Competition. I am moved by the mission and the team spirit (of NTDTV), so I took a day off and my entire family and I came to join this event. …It is wonderful that NTDTV is hosting this competition, not to mention at a location like Times Square. It’s just so wonderful. We have the attention of the world.”
Kean Wong, host of the Culinary Competition said: “The mission of the NTD Chinese Culinary Competition is to revive the 5000 years of Chinese culinary philosophies, techniques, and also to bring to the international public authentic Chinese food.”
To revisit some of the wonderful moments from International Chinese Culinary Competitions in past years, check out this video clip here: http://competitions.ntdtv.com/culinary