(oh, and this thermos)
Lums Chinese, Flushing, NY, (1978)- My earliest memory of butterflied shrimp and pure food-happiness. A decadent, visceral feeling of joy as oil burned a crooked path down my chin exploding in my mouth into wondrous flavors of shrimp, bacon, egg, scallion, topped with a savory ketchup based sauce and onions.
Joy Island, Bay Terrace, NY (1981 through my departure from NY)- The perfect pubescent boy version of butterflied shrimp. Less onion, more bacon, bigger shrimp, and topped with the orange goo of a sweet and sour sauce. Heaven on a plate. Best when mixed with the msg laden roast pork fried rice.
Tiburon, CA, (2020) – Bored. Hungry. Still in quarantine (sort of). Well, what is one to do under such trying circumstances . . . let’s make some butterflied shrimp!
I searched around and found several recipes for butterflied shrimp. Some were too close to actual Chinese food rather than the Americanized nonsense I grew up with while others far too savory with tons of onions and that ketchup-based sauce I don’t care for. Ultimately, I combined a couple of recipes and came up with this version.
First, I got some colossal shrimp -possibly some variety of water gerbil or perhaps Sea Monkey royalty. (Ultimately, they were too big and were a bit tough. Next time, I will use extra-large (26-30 per pound).
Peel the shrimp leaving the small end of the tail to help hold it together. Then split the shrimp, but not all the way through. You should be able to put the shrimp down and have a flat shrimp on which to place the bacon. Make sure to remove any grossness (the vein). Now rinse the shrimp and then dry.
Bacon- the meat even vegetarians secretly eat (or at least crave)- is our next crucial step. Cut the pieces (scissors work well for this) to fit each shrimp. Press the bacon onto the shrimp.
Next step- the bacon/shrimp combo gets a bath in well beaten egg.
And then straight into the oil. Fry bacon side down first at about 350. Once nicely browned, flip those bad boys and get ready to eat.
Once they are all done and plated you should begin eating immediately. As in well before you call your family or guests. You must have the first bite while the oil still causes those joyful 2nd-degree burns and curdles the gooey sweet and sour, or sweet chili sauce.
Okay, next post I will be back to sailing. Seriously, not kidding. I promise.