Born in Beijing, Shirley Chung learned to cook at the apron strings of her grandmother. As a high school student, Chang migrated to California, where the family has had a presence for five generations.
She continued to hone her culinary skills and gain hands-on experience, opening seven new restaurants in Las Vegas for renowned chefs, and serving as a "Top Chef" finalist.
Chung now lives in Los Angeles and is chef at Ms. Chi Café in Culver City.
In “Chinese Heritage Cooking From My American Kitchen” (Page Street), Chung shares more than 75 recipes that marry Western food and traditional Chinese fare. The book is organized into nine chapters covering such topics as salads and chilled dishes; noodles, dumplings and pancakes; and meat and fish dishes, among others.
The author’s shrimp and peas recipe, accompanying this article, heralds the arrival of spring. “This dish tastes like a plate of ocean candy, and it is sure to make you happy,” Chung writes.
Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Feedback on the column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHRIMP AND PEAS
1 pound peeled and deveined raw medium-size shrimp
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 cup shucked English peas
4 tablespoons Shaoxing wine•
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Salt, to taste
1 lemon for zest
*Pale Dry Sherry can substitute for Shaoxing rice wine (also spelled Shao-hsing or Shaohsing).
Rinse and clean the shrimp under running water, then pat dry. In a mixing bowl, toss the shrimp with the sesame oil, cornstarch and white pepper. Massage the cornstarch onto the shrimp so that they are evenly coated. Clean the sugar snap peas, snip off the stringy ends and slice the sugar snap peas into thirds.
Heat up the canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger into the oil. When the ginger starts to brown, about 30 seconds, add the shrimp and start to stir-fry. When the shrimp start to curl up and turn pink, about one minute in, add both types of peas and continue to stir-fry for one minute. Add the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce to the wok, cook for 10 seconds and add salt to taste.
Plate the shrimp. Add fresh lemon zest all over, and it’s ready to serve.