Kong’s Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

  • Prep Time
    11/2 hour
  • Cook Time
    15 minutes or less
  • Serving
  • View

This dish is a Cantonese dish popular in Chinese restaurants.  There is no lobster in this dish.  It seems the dish originally featured lobster but shrimp was so often substituted because of its relative cheapness and availability that the dish eventually became a shrimp dish.  In researching the origins of Chinese-American cooking, I found that Cantonese cuisine is known for its simplicity and freshness.   Scallions, ginger and garlic comprise the The Holy Trinity of Cantonese cooking.  Note that this recipe does not call for minced ginger, but it could certainly be added with the garlic and cooked pork (some recipes did call for the addition of ginger).

I also learned that one of the most famous Cantonese chefs was a woman named Pearl Kong Chen, and so that’s why I named this dish after her.  I could not find any evidence that she ever published a recipe for Shrimp with Lobster Sauce which is probably because this dish appears to be a Chinese -American restaurant invention.  But her contribution to Cantonese cooking was so important and so inspiring to many people that I think naming this ubiquitous dish after her would not be wrong.

As an aside, I thought it was interesting that when Chinese cooking first came to America, it was very difficult to get good authentic Chinese food.  Why?  Because most of the Chinese people who first came here were MEN and they weren’t very good cooks!  So, right off the bat the cuisine was subjected to bad cooks and scarcity of authentic ingredients.  Eventually, the women came over and everything got better as it tends to do when women take charge.

As for Pearl Kong Chen, here is what Wikipedia says about her: 

Pearl Kong Chen (June 17, 1926 – July 21, 2014) was a Chinese-American cooking teacher and cookbook author known as an expert on Cantonese cuisine. Chen’s grandfather, Kong Hungyun, was a Qing dynasty official and noted gourmet in Guangzhou in the early 1900s, but she did not begin her own culinary career until she came to America in 1967.   She lived in New York and in California, where she taught cooking and home economics classes at San Jose State University and provided instruction to high school teachers.

Chen wrote over 40 cookbooks, primarily in Chinese, but in 1983 she published Everything You Want to Know about Chinese Cooking, for an American audience.  Her co-authors were her husband, Tien Chi Chen (陳天機) (1928–), and dietitian and food science professor Rose Y. L. Tseng. The cookbook includes 243 recipes, including steamed whole fish, braised abalone with black mushrooms in oyster sauce, spicy soy sauce chicken, red-cooked chicken with chestnuts, braised orange duck, fish-flavoured pork shreds, braised radish balls with dried shrimp, home-made noodles, and classic Chinese flaky pastry.

Chen died on July 21, 2014, in Hong Kong.



Shrimp Sauce


    This is a simple recipe packed with flavor. The steps are intuitive: boil the ground pork, stir fry the shrimp and vegetables, make a sauce and then thicken it. Serve over rice. Drop the mic.

    Step 1

    Fill the wok about 1/3 full of water and bring to a boil over medium to high heat.

    Step 2

    When the water is boiling, add the ground pork and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 1 minute.

    Step 3

    Remove the pork from the water with a spider utensil or a slotted spoon or fish spatula. Rinse the pork with water, drain and set aside.

    Step 4

    So, this is where you can take a break in the recipe. Pour the water out of the wok and clean the wok, then put it back on medium high heat and let it dry out and get really hot.

    Step 5

    When you're ready to cook, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is smoking, add the shrimp and the ground pork and the garlic. Add the ginger if you are using it. Cook for about 15 to 30 seconds.

    Step 6

    Add the wine and cook down/reduce about a minute.

    Step 7

    Add the stock, the salt and pepper, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce.

    Step 8

    Add the peas. Bring or perhaps lower to a simmer.

    Step 9

    Remove the shrimp when they are done. If you overcook the shrimp, they will be tough. Set them aside in a serving dish with most of the peas and pork (which got scooped out when you scooped out the shrimp).

    Step 10

    Finish the sauce. Make a cornstarch and water slurry and pour it into the sauce. Let it thicken for a few minutes at a simmer.

    Step 11

    In a slow stream pour the lightly beaten egg into the sauce in a circular pattern. You can use just the egg white or you can use the whole egg. Let the sauce "sit" for at least 5 seconds and then add the chopped scallions. Stir the sauce at the end so that you get strands of cooked egg and pour the sauce over the reserved shrimp in the serving dish.

    Step 12

    Serve with steamed Jasmine rice.

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