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Black pepper shrimp - a Singapore/Vietnam hybrid


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I've made black pepper shrimp in one form of another occasionally but it's never been the same twice.  Last night's version was a keeper, so I'm putting it here so I can do it again.  Black pepper shrimp exists in both Singapore and Vietnam (and I'm sure elsewhere as well) - this version is basically the Singapore version with added herbs.


Recipe is for 2 people, to be had with rice.  The sauce is really thick and strong, so you only need a bit with the rice - it goes a long way.


12 Extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined, then sliced 3/4 of the way through from the back.  You could also use shell on shrimp (how it's done in Singapore) but then the sauce clings to the shell rather than the meat.  Season with a little salt and let sit while prepping the other ingredients


1 T whole black peppercorns (I use Vietnamese) pounded or ground coursely, dry fried to release the aroma


1 small handful medium size dried shrimp, soaked for 20 minutes in water, then drained, chopped and pounded - not to a paste, but small pieces


1 normal size shallot, finely chopped


4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Thai chilli, minced

1 sprig curry leaves

2 garlic chives, cut into 1/2" lengths


2 t oyster sauce

2 t sweet soy sauce

1 t dark soy sauce

1 t light soy sauce

Pinch salt

slightly larger pinch sugar


small handful cilantro, chopped

a few sprigs laksa leaf (rau ram), picked and chopped

10 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade


Rice bran oil (or other high temp oil) for frying, plus maybe 1 t butter later


1) in a hot wok, at a few T of oil and sear shrimp on both sides, then reserve saving the oil
2) in the same wok with same oil (add a bit more if needed) on low to medium heat, fry the pounded dried shrimp until golden brown and crispy. Drain, reserving the oil. Clean the wok to make sure you don't get any burnt bits

3) Heat the wok over medium heat, add back a couple T of the shrimp oil plus the butter and sweat the shallots until translucent and just starting to brown

4) increase the heat a bit and add the garlic/chilli/curry leaves/chives plus the dry fried black pepper. Stir fry until fragrant

5) add the fried dried shrimp and mix thoroughly

6) add the sauce and mix to combine - it should boil pretty furiously when added and turn thick and syrupy fast

7) add the seared shrimp and mix to coat evenly and just reheat

8 ) turn off the heat and add the herbs

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