Sunday, July 11, 2010

Credit Crunch: Asian Lemon Stir Fry with Prawns

It feels SO GOOD to be cooking in my own kitchen again. No more cleaning up after someone else before I can begin, no more worries that someone devoured my ingredients before I could use them, no more having to maneuver around someone else's countertop clutter. Amazing, simply an amazing feeling! I felt so free and it was very inspiring, cooking-wise.

After a few hours of searching through my kitchen boxes, I had finally located my plates and some cooking utensils, so it was, at long last, time to get back to my normal routine of cooking at home. After a couple of weeks of far too many take out meals and tv dinners, I was really craving a home cooked meal. My budget is rather restricted at the moment, until my divorce woes are fully behind me and until I land a full time day job. Therefore, anything and everything I already have in my fridge, freezer, and pantry (mainly stuff I dragged with me when I moved out) has to be eaten up before I can even consider buying new ingredients.

Since I had been eating so much take out food, and my favorite thing to grab and go is typically something Asian, I had about a cup or so of leftover steamed rice and perhaps 3/4 cup of really lovely Chinese lemon sauce hanging out in the fridge, begging to be used. The sauce was what I had saved from a nice lemon chicken meal from my formerly local Chinese restaurant, where they actually make their own stir fry sauces and dips. It is a thick, translucent neon yellow colored sauce, very lemony, and quite sweet, but not so sweet that you feel as if you are eating a dessert. It has a nice sour tang from the fresh lemons.

Oddly, the remnants of the last meal I ate in my old home were converted into one of the first meals I created in the new one. There must be some weird karma at work here.

I dug around in my fridge for any vegetables that might work out nicely in a stir fry dish. I had a sweet crunchy yellow bell pepper, some celery, spring onions, a handful of button mushrooms, a clove of garlic, some pre-cooked frozen jumbo shrimp, some pickled sushi ginger, and some wok oil in my cupboard.

Just pretend the bottle of Japanese Mirin you see in the photo is actually wok oil - I had grabbed the wrong bottle for the photo and didn't notice until I started cooking. Yes, sometimes I really am that scatterbrained. I also added in a splash of Sriracha hot sauce to tame the sweetness of the lemon sauce a bit, which was an afterthought while cooking, so that also missed the photo shoot.

As I usually do when I am creating something off the top of my head, I set out my ingredients in a line on my counter and just started cooking, first heating a bit of oil in my wok, then stir frying the aromatic ingredients first (garlic, ginger, spring onions), adding strips of bell peppers, slices of celery, and then the mushrooms, cooking each until they had just begun to soften up. I rinsed the frozen prawns under some cool water, a trick to rid them of that I've-been-hanging-out-in- the-freezer taste, then popped them into the wok and gave everything a good toss. Within a couple of minutes, the shrimp was fully thawed, so I added the lemon sauce (lemon slices and all) and let the ingredients simmer and meld just long enough for the rice to reheat in the microwave.

The results? Honestly, it tasted really good.. much better than I had expected when I first stared at that little tub of shimmering yellow sauce in my fridge. The bits of pickled ginger and lemon slices gave the entire dish a really nice bright, fresh and unexpected flavor.

Asian Lemon Stir Fry with Prawns or Shrimp
serves 1-2

2 tsp wok oil or any oil suitable for stir frying
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 tsp pickled ginger, chopped
2 spring onions, cut into 1 1/2" pieces, chopping a tiny bit of the green tops to use as a garnish
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
5-6 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 handful frozen prawns or shrimp, rinsed under cool water and slightly thawed (cut into smaller pieces if desired)
1/2-3/4 cup Chinese lemon sauce (with some thinly sliced lemon)*
1 dash Sriracha hot sauce, optional
1 1/2 cups cooked steamed rice

Heat oil in wok. Saute garlic, ginger, and spring onions just a couple of minutes until they release their aroma. Add bell peppers and stir fry 1 minute, then add the celery and continue stir frying another minute or so, add the mushrooms, stir fry until all of the veggies are still a little crisp, but beginning to soften. Toss in the shrimp and cook until the shrimp has just heated through. Immediately add the lemon sauce (and some hot sauce) if desired and stir, dropping the heat some to allow the sauce to bubble and simmer gently. Serve over steamed rice, garnished with some of the reserved spring onion tops.

*NOTE: I would imagine leftover sweet & sour sauce or sweet chili sauce would work out just as well in this.


  1. what a beautiful stir fry!! thanks so much for sharing.....glad to hear your back in your own kitchen!

  2. Thanks for sharing this great recipe of Asian Lemon Stir Fry. I hope that I can cook it perfect because I want to cook it on my own. By the way do you also have a Recipe for Stir Fry Sauce? I wonder on how to make it.