Monday, June 11, 2012

"Special No. 3A" Shrimp with Black Bean and Garlic Sauce

Have you ever noticed how organized the typical Chinese restaurant is?  You can rush in, order your "Special No. 3A" or whatever, and instantly you, the kitchen, waitstaff, and cashier are on the same page!  You're soon presented with your cute little box and there's dinner!  It's wonderfully efficient!
Chinese food is fun, relatively inexpensive, and most of the time very tasty!  However, I've found that now with so many great condiments in the ordinary grocery store, you can make some great "take out" style dishes at home!  They are super quick, very economical, and you get to control what's in there-- or not in there (MSG!).  I figured out that it takes at least 40 minutes from the time you place your Chinese food order to the time your family is eating.  It takes less than 20 minutes to put the dish pictured here, Shrimp with Black Bean Garlic Sauce, together.  The Black Bean Garlic Sauce shown above is a terrific product!  It is tasty, contains no artificial ingredients, and cost only $2.40 at my local store.  It seasons 5-6 lbs. of protein (shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, tofu, etc.), which is at least as many family sized meals.  The sauce is very salty, so it's not good if you're watching that, but otherwise it is a wholesome product.
This is so easy, it's hardly a "recipe", but if you like the "Chicken or Shrimp with Black Bean and Garlic Sauce" that is the staple of many Chinese menus, I think you'll love this recipe!  If you want to serve it with rice, make that beforehand.  Add a few fortune cookies, and it's a party! 
Shrimp (or whatever) with Black Bean and Garlic Sauce (Serves 3-4)
1 lb. cleaned shrimp without tails (or sliced chicken breast, beef, pork or cubed tofu)
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 green onions sliced diagonally (use most of the green part also)
1 large carrot, sliced diagonally into thin slices
2 stalks celery sliced diagonally
1/2 can sliced water chestnuts (use the other half tomorrow in a salad!)
1 Tbl. cooking oil
3 Tb. Black bean and garlic sauce
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet.  If you have a wok, you can use it, but it's not necessary.  If you're using chicken, beef, or pork, add it to the oil and cook until almost done.  Add the veggies and cook 2-3 more minutes until the veggies are crisp-tender.  If you're using shrimp or tofu, cook the veggies first for 2 minutes, then add the shrimp and cook until it is opaque throughout and pink.  If you're using tofu, add the tofu at the last and just heat through.  Stir gently or the tofu will break up too much.
Off the heat, add the black bean garlic sauce and stir well to mix.  Put back on the heat and stir until everything is coated and glazed with the sauce.  Serve immediately.
Note:  Of course, you can use any vegetables you like or have on hand.  Be sure to cut them up into about the same size so that they cook evenly. 

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