Cantonese boiled shrimps

 I always get on to cooking forgetting it's just two of us for dinner. I kept reminding myself: it's just me plus one. Apparently, this doesn't work. Just yesterday, at the morning market. I went up to the shrimp lady to weigh me some shrimps. She piled the fresh shrimps on to the scale. "Enough?" she asked me when the needle points at one kilo. Half a kilo more I told her. This happens all the time. 

Even in the early morning, the market hummed with life. I couldn't resist looking at the fishes. All so freshly displayed on a bed of thick ice - they make me happy. I will poke around, picking them up, looking at their eyes for freshness and lifting their gills to see the redness (my grandmother taught me so, when I always followed her to the market when I was a kid). I will move between a few set vendors, poking around, asking for price. Until I find the right fish. The one that had called me was a big white pomfret. 
My other stop is the meat section. I make my rounds to my trusty butcher who would tell me stories about the pork origins or sometimes educate me on the cuts, showing me, bring up to my noise telling me to smell it. He would ask me what I am cooking and choose the best cut for me. I always tell me to weigh enough for three because there's a glutton my in household. He taught me how to cook them as well, with vague recipes and secret tips because I always go to him asking for cuts for different recipes; maybe I am a good listener or he knew I could figure the rest myself. Once, I asked him if he had pig tails, that ended up as one of the most popular bar food at the restaurant I was consulting - Fried pig tails. Delicious.
The last stop is always the vegetables. I'll glee with joy with the varieties. There are more organics now. All so fresh that I will want to take each variety home. The last stop at the veg stall is always my heaviest bag.

I came back with my loot and announced the dishes I was planning to make. Re-telling him the story where the butcher spent 15 minutes telling me while putting the days goods away. "Be hungry tonight. I bought too much again." I told him.
We ate like it's our first meal of the day; finishing the abundance, leaving the fish to the bones; the shells all piled up high onto the bowl,dunking each pink shrimp to the black sea of garlicky chilli sauce. savouring the sweetness with each conquer. We rubbed our tummies, cheers the last sip of champagne. Lost in a game of scissors, paper, stone. Alright, I'm doing the dishes tonight.

Freshest ingredients require simple cooking to bring out the sweetness especially with seafood. 

Recipe for dipping sauce (to taste)
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
Spring onions cut at diagonal thin strips
1 hot chili cut into rings
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot oil (pour over onto the sauce)

For the blanching stock
3 knobs ginger
Few sprig of spring onions tie in knot
250ml hua diao or shaoxing chinese wine
1½  lit water
3 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Cooking oil
1.5 kg fresh shrimps (enough for 6 people)

Boil blanching soup with all the ingredients above for half hour to release the ginger flavor. The trick is not to get so many shrimps into the boiling water at once. Turn off the heat and quick blanch the shrimps. It's al denté when it all turn pink and flesh feels firm on a squeeze. Stop the cooking process with an ice water bath. Make it shine with a drizzle of hot smoking oil and garnish with cut spring onion and chili rings when serving.

-till next post, ss.

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