For about the past six years I've led Wok Wednesdays, a group of stir-fry enthusiasts who started out cooking our way through Grace Young's award-winning cookbook "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge." It's been a wonderful experience connecting with people across the globe over a shared passion for our woks. We've since finished our way through the first cookbook and moved on to another of Grace's books, "The Breath of a Wok."
I've also learned over the past six years that a wok can be so much than just a tool for stir-frying. I've used my wok to make fried chicken, whip up a batch of green curry mussels, and pop countless bowls of popcorn. My wok has seen its fair share of Asian recipes, but also Italian, Mexican, and Southern ones as well. I firmly believe the wok is the most versatile cooking instrument in the world.
A few weeks ago I posed a question to the Wok Wednesdays group - if you could learn to use your wok for one thing besides stir-frying, what would it be? The overwhelming answer was "smoking."
A wok makes a fantastic stove-top smoker, and with it you can churn out delicious smoked fish, chicken wings, and even smoked cheeses. I have used my wok as a smoker off and on for years now, and so I set about to come up with a brand new recipe for the Wok Wednesdays group that could help them learn how easy it is to master yet another cooking technique in their wok.
One of the simplest and easiest proteins to smoke is shrimp. Unlike chicken they don't require any pre-cooking before you smoke them, and their versatility as a flavor-base means you can come at them from virtually any culinary angle. Tea-smoked, barbecued, dry-rubbed, spicy, umami - you name it.
The shrimp in this recipe are quickly marinated in a tangy, gingery coating and then smoked over a mixture of rice, sugar, and Earl Grey tea. Served atop a bed of arugula studded with grapefruit and red onions that is tossed in a sweet, citrusy vinaigrette, this salad can easily make a full meal.
A quick note on the shrimp here - I always buy shell-on shrimp and peel and devein them myself. They're often cheaper, and I can use the shrimp shells to make stock. By all means, though, feel free to purchase peeled and deveined shrimp, just make sure they are fresh. Defrosted, previously frozen shrimp just aren't worth it in my opinion.
Ready? Set? Smoke!
Wok-Smoked Shrimp with Arugula and Grapefruit
Serves 2 as a main meal, 4 as a first course
- 1/2 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste* (we prefer Laxmi brand)
- 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 3-5 dashes of Tabasco
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Earl Grey teabags
- One bag of baby arugula
- One large grapefruit
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Juice from half a medium lemon
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Wok lid
- Aluminum foil
- 8" round cooling rack
- In a medium bowl mix together the ginger-garlic paste, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and 3-5 dashes of Tabasco (depending on your tastes). Add the peeled and deveined shrimp and toss to coat, then put in the refrigerator to marinate for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your smoker. Line the inside of your wok with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-3 inch overhang on the sides. Mix together the rice, sugar, and the tea from the teabags (discard the empty bags) and pour into the foil-lined wok. Place the cooling rack over the rice mixture. Line the wok lid with aluminum foil as well, again leaving an overhang, and set aside.
- Prep the salad. Cut away the rind of the grapefruit and, over a bowl to catch the juices, cut out the segments and drop into the same bowl. Squeeze any remaining juice out the grapefruit and into the bowl. Measure out a 1/4 cup of grapefruit juice and into that whisk the 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, the lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed - you're aiming for sweet with a bit of citrusy brightness, so feel free to up the lemon juice if you want.
- Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator after 20 minutes and arrange them atop the cooling rack in the wok. No need to wipe off any marinade that might be still on them! Place the wok on a burner over high heat until you just begin to see wisps of smoke forming and the sugar starts to melt and bubble. This could take several minutes depending on your stove.
- When you see the rice mixture start to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and cover the wok with the foil-lined wok lid. Working quickly and carefully, crimp the two layers of foil together to create a seal that will keep the smoke in the wok. Once done, set a timer for 10 minutes. You might see little wisps of smoke escaping from the foil where it may not have been tightly crimped - this is ok. If a lot of smoke seems to be escaping, remove the wok from the stove and carefully recrimp the foil, then put it back on the heat to finish smoking.
- After 10 minutes turn the heat off and remove the wok from the stove. Carefully uncrimp the foil and remove the lid. You may want to do this near an open window or outside! The shrimp should be smoked and fully cooked through by now - set them aside to cool slightly as you finish the salad.
- In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, grapefruit segments, thinly sliced red onion, and the dressing until well coated. Divide the mixture between your plates (2 servings for a full meal, 4 servings as a first course). Top each salad with some of the shrimp and serve while the shrimp are still warm. (Any leftover shrimp will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.)
*I'd encourage you to spring for the whole jar of ginger-garlic paste to keep in the fridge. I use it constantly, as a base for quick stir-fries or fried rice, mixed into salad dressings, and stirred into curries. If you would prefer to make the paste from scratch just grate two cloves of garlic and about a one inch piece of peeled fresh ginger on a Microplane zester or ginger grater and mix together. It will yield less than a tablespoon of paste, but will be a bit more pungent and potent, so no worries there.