Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sauteed Shrimp with Bean Sprouts Braised in Shrimp & Black Pepper Fume

My grandparents and I used to frequent a small sushi restaurant in Manhattan. There was a dish on the menu I had never seen, seemingly simple and yet so packed with flavor as to set the idea of simple cooked bean sprouts on its head. At first I couldn’t place the rich, vaguely sweet and mildly brackish flavor the chef braised the sprouts in to give them such an addicting quality. It wasn’t until one day when we asked them to make it with shrimp that I finally understood the flavors matched, more or less. The quality that gave them their amazing taste was a concentrated shrimp stock; a fume. Sweet and spicy black pepper plays up to the sweetness in the shrimp and complements it in a delightful way. Mildly onion-y and earthy spring onions helped complete the flavor profile.

In this post I’ll try to recreate this dish. Because I loved it with sauteed shrimp I’ve added shrimp. This will help make it more substantial. Get the best shrimp you can, sushi grade, if possible. This dish has so few ingredients they need to be the best of the best.

Sauteed Shrimp with Bean Sprouts Braised in Shrimp & Black Pepper Fume

Makes 4 large servings

12 ounces unpeeled shrimp
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces bean sprouts
3 spring onions
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon neutral oil
Soy sauce, to taste

1. Clean spring onions and chop off the dark green papery upper portions and set aside. Cut the rest into 1 inch segments.
2. Remove heads from shrimp and devein without removing the shells or legs (slice along back of shell to remove veins).
3. In a wok heated to medium high heat, add half the neutral oil, a small dash of soy sauce and a small pinch of pepper & saute shrimp in shells until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from heat and set aside to cool.
4. When shrimp are cool enough to handle, remove peels and legs. Add shrimp heads, peels, legs & green papery parts of spring onions to wok over medium heat. To this add sesame oil, 2 cups of water, more soy sauce (to taste) and remainder of pepper.
5. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce for approximately 30 - 45 minutes (depending upon how much time you have to devote to dinner). Strain stock into a bowl and set aside.
6. Add the remaining oil to the wok and saute the green onions until they begin to soften and caramelize, about 3 minutes. Flip the onions over and saute for another 3 minutes, add bean sprouts and after 1 minute, stock. Cook for another 6 or so minutes, until the sprouts are cooked through completely. In the lastinute, reintroduce the shrimp.

Serve alongside rice or make it an accompanying hot dish the next time you make sushi at home.


  1. That really is a great idea, Joy, making the fume to flavour the dish, and specifically the beansprouts. Love the recipe!

    1. Thank you! I really liked it in the restaurant, so I've been meaning to recreate this dish for awhile!