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Shrimp In China

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Fish and Seafood

Winter Volume: 2018 Issue: 25(4) pages: 35 to 37

China produces tons and tons of fresh water shrimp in ponds, salt water ones too. They collect tons and tons of them and other seafood they raise. They also import more of all of these than does any other country in the world, and they raise more than any other country because of their extensive aqua-culture. There is an industry began long before any other country even thought to do so, and more than other countries do today.

The early Chinese were the first to develop aqua-culture of any kind. Long after they did, in 2015 for example, they produced almost fifty million metric tons of it. We once read it was actually more than forty-seven million metric tons that year alone. And the amount has grown since.

In shrimp, they farm mostly salt water types, but also farm tons of fresh water shrimp. China produces most farmed fish and most farmed shrimp in the entire world, more than the rest of the world combined. Some experts argue they exaggerate their numbers as they are self-reported. We think they produce and consume far more seafood than any other nation. Seafood has always been a large part of their diet; and how much they eat, we know not.

The Chinese are rapidly expanding their middle class and their upper class, so they are taking their shrimp consumption to new heights. For example, between 2005 and 2015, shrimp consumption did increase by more than 123%. Over the same ten-year period, shrimp imports to China also increased while shrimp exports decreased so China is now one of, if not the world’s largest importers of shrimp.

Seasonal demand of shrimp and all seafood during Chinese New Year impacts these numbers, prices and availability is one reason why. Eating fish and shrimp, not one or the other, on Chinese New Year is for the Chinese very symbolic and very much a part of this festival. Fish symbolizes prosperity to them; each symbolizes prosperity for the upcoming year.

The Chinese word for abundance is pronounced exactly the same way they pronounce the word for fish; it is yu. While many use a different word for each sea creature, they all also group them as ‘fish,’ and in China the cost of all foods of the sea increase dramatically leading up to Chinese New Year. There are some species that experience price increases up to and beyond fifty percent at that time. While shoppers might complain, they also pay whatever it costs.

To the Chinese, shrimp represent liveliness, happiness, and good fortune. Long noodles represent long life. Lettuce in Cantonese means good fortune. And most want all of them on their New Year’s Eve dinner table. This is the Chinese Spring Holiday, and shrimp is an important part of it assuring a year of happiness. So is fish as it represents a year of surplus. They also want, spring rolls or dumplings for more money as income, or meaning an increase in position.

Also, each home will have a ‘Tray of Togetherness’ with eight sections filled with eight goodies to offer guests and wishes for them and their families. Who would not want that for the New Year and the coming year? These foods belong in their homes during this festive season.

Invented during the Han Dynasty, Red Cotton Shrimp, especially those from Lake Taihu are known for their flavor, tenderness, and fatty texture. They are often served on New Year’s Day; are sweet, sour, and crisp, and they remind of Liu Bang’s founding of this dynasty. So does a priceless dress worn by the hostess probably purchased for his wife as thanks for her help in setting a trap to kill Han Xin, he then a former ally-turned-potential-usurper.

Many families make this dish or one of many others using shrimp, a steamed whole fish not to cut into their luck during the coming year, and many other dishes wishing themselves and myriads of luck, surplus, long life, and other wishes to start their New Year off in an upbeat manner thinking positively as the New Year begins with many in their family there to share it with them.

Han Dynasty Cotton-Ball Shrimp

1 pound sweet-water shrimp, shells and veins discarded, then minced finely
3 Tablespoons pork floss, chopped
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
2 egg whites, beaten until very foamy
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Cheese rice wine
2 teaspoons water chestnut flour
1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
3 Tablespoons lard
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red tomato skin, sliced finely


1. Mix minced shrimp, pork floss, sesame seeds, egg whites, salt, rice wine, water chestnut flour, and the ground peppercorns, and with wet hands, make the shrimp mixture into two-inch balls.
2. Heat a fry pan, add the lard and the sesame oil. Fry the egg white balls turning them often until they float on the oil. Then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate, and in two minutes, to a serving plate, discarding the paper towel.
3. Sprinkle the tomato slivers on each egg white ball, and serve.

Bamboo Shoots and Shrimp Roe

1 pound winter bamboo shoot tips, peeled, cut in wedges, simmered for an hour, then drained
3 dried black mushrooms, soaked in one cup hot water until soft, water squeezed out and reserved, the mushrooms caps sliced
1 Tablespoon frozen green peas, soaked in boiling water for five minutes, then drained
2 Tablespoons shrimp roe
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat a wok or fry pan, and stir-fry the shrimp roe for one minute, then remove to a small bow and mix with the drained green peas.
2. Heat a wok or fry pan, add the oil, then the bamboo shoot wedges and the mushroom slices and the oyster sauce, sesame oil, chicken stock, and salt and pepper and stir for two minutes. Put in a pre=heated bowl, put the shrimp roe on top, and serve.

Shrimp and Egg White Ovals

10 shrimp, shells and veins discarded, then butterflied, lightly pounded flat into one piece
2 egg whites, beaten until soft peaks form
3 Tablespoons cornstarch, divided in half
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
½ cup soup broth
2 Tablespoons shrimp or any red roe


1. Mix egg whites with half the cornstarch and put them on the flattened shrimp flattening them with a wet knife.
2. Mix half the cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water.
3, Oil ten Chinese soup spoons and put them and one topped shrimp on each soup spoon into a pot with the vinegar and half a cup of water and the broth. Simmer them for two minutes until the shrimp and egg white mixture slides off the spoons, then turn them over for an additional minute, them move them to a platter
4, Add cornstarch and water to the pot, boil one minute until thick, and pour around the shrimp items, then sprinkle the tomato slivers on them, and serve.

Piquant Shrimp

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 Tablespoons minced onions
4 scallions, one minced, three angle-cut
3 slices fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 small piquant pepper, seeded and minced
½ pound shrimp, peel and veins discarded
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 Tablespoon wine vinegar


1. Heat fry pan, add oil and when hot, add and stir-fry minced garlic, onion, scallion, ginger, paprika, and the piquant pepper pieces for two minutes, then add the shrimp and continue stir-frying until the shrimp are barely pink.
2. Then add the salt and pepper and the two vinegars, and half the angle-sliced scallions. 3. Remove to a preheated bowl, sprinkle the rest of the scallions on top, and serve.

Fried Stuffed Shrimp

½ pound fresh shrimp, shells and veins discarded
10 bok cai outer leaves, their top ends slivered
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
½ pound shrimp, shells and veins discarded, shrimp minced
½ carrot minced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon bouillon powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil
dash ground white pepper
½ egg white
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup chicken stock


1. Simmer bok cai bottom half pieces for two minutes, then put them in cold water for two minutes more, and then drain them and set them aside.
2. Then, coat their insides with the cornstarch and set excess aside..
3. Stir minced shrimp, salt, bouillon powder, sesame oil, ground white pepper, the egg white until sticky, then stuff this into the bok cai stem parts mounding it in each green part.
4. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil, and fry the stuffed vegetable pieces, stuffed side down, for two minutes, then turn them over and fry green sides down for another two minutes.
5. Add chicken stock and stir any cornstarch left over from dusting the green bottom parts until slightly thickened.
6. Put the stuffed bok cai shrimp part up on a pre-heated platter, pour any sauce over them, and serve.

Shrimp In Lychees

1 cup fresh lychee fruits, shells and peels discarded, fruits kept whole
1 cup boiled shrimp, shells and veins discarded, and then minced
½ teaspoon coarse salt.
dash ground white pepper
½ cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 egg whites


1. Mix minced cooked shrimp with the ground white pepper, then stuff each fruit carefully with about a tablespoon of the minced shrimp mixture and place them on a serving plate.
2. Stir the chicken stock, cornstarch, and egg whites and bring this the boil stirring constantly. When slightly thickened, pour this over the stuffed shrimp and serve.

Nonya Shrimp

½ pound shrimp, shells and veins discarded, cut down the backs but not cut through, then flattened
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small chili pepper, seeds discarded, then minced
3 small curry leaves, minced
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
11/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon evaporated milk


1. Soak shrimp in rice wine for two minutes, then drain and dry them with paper towels.
2. Heat a wok or fry pan, add the oil, and fry the shrimp for two minutes, then drain and add the chili pepper and curry leaf pieces and stir-fry for one minute, then discard them, and add the mashed preserved egg yolks until they bubble, then add the shrimp, bouillon powder, sugar, and evaporated milk, and stir until the shrimp are well-coated and pink, but no longer than one or two minutes.
3. Remove to a pre-heated platter, and serve.

Chayote with Shrimp

1 chayote, peeled, seeds discarded, and cut each slice in half
1 Tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked ten minutes in hot water, drained, water discarded
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 slice fresh ginger, minced
½ pound fresh shrimp, peel and veins discarded, each cut in half head to tail
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon granulated sugar


1. Heat oil in wok or fry pan, add garlic and dried shrimp, and stir-fry for one minute, then add the chayote pieces and half cup of boiling water stir-frying them for three minutes. Now set this aside off the heat for five minutes.
2. Return wok or fry pan to the heat, add the fresh shrimp and the pepper, cornstarch and the sugar and continue to stir fry until the fresh shrimp are pink, about two minutes.
3. Then put them in a pre-heated bowl and serve.

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