Chinese Salt Shrimp

4 servings

It was while living in an apartment at Rutgers University that Stuart Chang Berman ate one too many hamburgers. So he did what any self-respecting graduate student would do: He called home.

His mother, Aline, a longtime Washington restaurateur, "sent me two recipes for Chinese food." Before long, with tutoring from his mother and his grandmother and some experimenting on his own, Berman developed a repertoire that made him popular with other hamburger-weary students.

Berman, 47, of Silver Spring, went on to become a chef and join his mother in owning restaurants. He is a cooking instructor and writer in addition to being a federal probation officer.

This recipe is based on one of the recipes his mother sent him. Adapted from his book, "Potsticker Chronicles" (Wiley, 2004).

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, mashed and minced

1 teaspoon finely minced serrano chili peppers (may substitute jalapeno or Asian peppers)

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon dry sherry

1/2 cup sliced scallions, white and green parts, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, or to taste

Rinse the shrimp under cold water in a colander. Drain well. Use a paper towel to pat them dry.

Transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl and toss with the cornstarch, lightly coating the shrimp.

In a large pan over high heat, heat 2 cups of the oil to 350 degrees or until the oil is shimmering. Cook the shrimp in 2 batches until their cornstarch coating is crisp, about 2 to 4 minutes for each batch. Using a wide slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a separate large skillet or wok over high heat, add one tablespoon of the oil and swirl it to coat the bottom of the skillet or sides of the wok. Heat the oil until it is smoking. Add the garlic, chili peppers and ginger and stir for 10 seconds. Add the shrimp and stir for another 15 seconds. Add the sherry and scallions and stir for another 10 seconds, then turn off the heat.

Sprinkle the shrimp with the salt to taste. Toss once and serve hot.

Per serving: 225 calories, 23 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 172 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 750 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Shaune Hayes; e-mail questions to

Sue's Korean Shrimp Pancakes

Makes 4 to 5 pancakes

In Sue Kim's family, special occasions always meant shrimp. When she was a child, her family's favorite place to buy seafood was the waterfront in Southwest Washington.

"My mom never sat down and taught me how to cook," says Kim, 29, an information technology consultant who lives in Vienna.

"I learned mostly from just watching her, shopping with her, and getting comfortable with her favorite seasonings and recipes. When you grow up eating a person's cooking, you start to recognize flavors and start getting familiar with it. Eventually, it becomes secondhand."

Kim's recipe here -- a special Korean-style seafood pancake -- is one that all her friends are hooked on. It was created by Kim and her mother, Jyung Hee Yoo, who lives in Greenbelt. The pancakes can be made with shrimp alone or with squid, crabmeat or scallops (or all three) added. (Asian markets carry frozen assortments of seafood suitable for the pancakes.)

The key to making the pancakes crisp, Kim says, is a hot pan and cold batter. She serves this as an appetizer, with cold Asian beer; it's also good for a light lunch.

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 large egg

3/4 to 1 cup ice-cold water

2 scallions, chopped (about 4 tablespoons)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Rinse the shrimp and pat it dry. Finely chop it and place it in a bowl. (It is important to let the shrimp dry fairly well; otherwise, the batter will be too runny and make limp pancakes.)

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, sesame oil, cornstarch, egg and water until well blended. Add the shrimp and scallions. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes; it should be the consistency of regular pancake batter.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil (each pancake will need about that much to cook).

Ladle one-quarter of the batter into the skillet and spread out mix. Let it cook thoroughly (the batter and seafood should stick together). Check the bottom of the pancake to see if it is light brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip over and cook the other side until done, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot, cut into serving pieces or letting guests tear off pieces.

Per serving (based on 5): 299 calories, 13 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 111 mg cholesterol, 2 g saturated fat, 546 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to

Shaku's Indian Fried Shrimp

6 to 8 servings

Vaishali Deshpande learned to cook seafood from her mother and her grandmother. "My grandmother is from Ratnagiri [a coastal region in India] and has always cooked seafood -- with the sure touch of someone who always has been around seafood, eaten it and loved it," says the 39-year-old Potomac resident, who works in research and development at Micros Systems in Columbia.

While her grandmother used a combination of chickpea flour and rice flour to form the batter, Deshpande sometimes substitutes 1 cup of House-Autry brand seasoned coating mix.

She usually serves the dish as an appetizer with a sweet and spicy Chinese dipping sauce. It's spicy, so a cold beer or a sweet Riesling or Gewuerztraminer goes well with it, she says. It also works as a side dish.

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup rice flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste


1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried mango powder*, optional

Vegetable oil for frying (about 2 cups)

Sweet chili sauce, for dipping*

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, rice flour, cayenne and salt to taste and set aside.

Place the shrimp in a separate bowl and add the lemon juice, tossing to coat evenly. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain off excess juice.

In another bowl, combine water with 1/2 cup of the flour mixture to form a thin, smooth batter. Place the shrimp into this batter and let sit for about 15 minutes.

Mix the cumin, coriander and dried mango powder, if using, with the remaining flour mixture and set aside.

In a large pot or wok over high heat, heat the vegetable oil to about 375 degrees, or until the oil is shimmering. Take a few shrimp at a time out of the marinade and flour them in the remaining flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Cook for 1 to 11/2 minutes until the shrimp is golden. Transfer with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. (You should be able to cook all the shrimp in 2 batches.) Serve hot with chili dipping sauce.

*NOTES: The sweet chili sauce known as mae ploy is available at Asian markets.

Dried mango powder, also known as amchoor, lends a tangy flavor to this dish. It is available at Indian markets.

Per serving: 167 calories, 13 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 86 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 123 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Jill Grisco; e-mail questions to

Diana's Vietnamese

Caramel Shrimp

4 to 6 servings

Growing up in what was then Saigon, Diana My Tran, 50, admits that she and her eight siblings were spoiled by their mother and two aunts, who took them to many good restaurants.

War brought an end to all of that and devastated her family. My Tran fled with her husband and his parents and her younger brother. They settled in Carlisle, Pa. Homesick, she turned to cooking. Her "finicky eating habits" helped her remember precisely how her favorite childhood dishes tasted. Finding authentic Vietnamese ingredients, however, was a challenge.

In the mid-1970s, My Tran moved to the Washington area. She now lives in the District, where she owns a bridal salon. Over the years, the influx of Asian immigrants in the region led to "so many more choices" to shop for Vietnamese ingredients, she says.

Her 2000 book, "The Vietnamese Cookbook," was one of the first in this country to focus on Vietnamese food. This is her favorite recipe, served traditionally with rice and a bowl of soup. Adapted from "The Vietnamese Cookbook" (Capital Books).

1 to 11/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon flour

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup water, or more as necessary

1 tablespoon sugar

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 to 1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons lime juice

4 or 5 sprigs cilantro, for garnish, optional

In a large bowl, combine the shrimp with the oyster-flavored sauce, salt, cayenne pepper and flour. Set aside to marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the shrimp to the skillet or wok, discarding any marinade.

Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn pink. Add the water and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the chili pepper and black pepper to taste. Squeeze the lime juice over the top of the shrimp and transfer the mixture to a platter.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately.

Per serving (based on 6): 162 calories, 16 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 1 g saturated fat, 268 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Yuki Noguchi; e-mail questions to

Sunil's Malaysian Shrimp Curry

4 to 6 servings

Sunil Rabindranath's parents are both good cooks, which he says laid the foundation for his discovering "the pleasures of spices and exotic ingredients" when he came to the United States as a student 22 years ago.

He still reminisces about shrimp dishes in Malaysia. "Spicy shrimp preparations in hot gravy called sambal are popular dishes," he says. They get their heat from their main ingredients: red chili peppers and fermented shrimp paste called belachan or trassi.

Rabindranath, 45, of Falls Church, is an engineer at Dulles International Airport.

His curry dish uses turmeric and coconut milk, common ingredients in Indian and Malaysian cooking. Ground macadamia nuts thicken the sauce. He serves this with rice.

For the spice paste:

1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

1 inch peeled fresh ginger root, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

5 macadamia nuts

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the curry:

11/2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (may use reduced-fat version)

11/2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lime juice, or to taste

For the spice paste: Using a food processor, blend all the ingredients until smooth, adding a little water if necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

For the curry: Rinse the shrimp in a colander and drain well.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the spice paste, stirring, and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring often. (If the spice paste sticks, add a tablespoon or so of water.) Add the coconut milk, brown sugar and salt, increasing the heat to medium-high so that the mixture comes to a boil.

Add the shrimp and lime juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 2 minutes. (If the shrimp appears to be cooking too fast, reduce to medium.) Serve hot.

Per serving (based on 6): 314 calories, 25 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 21 g fat, 172 mg cholesterol, 10 g saturated fat, 573 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Judith Weinraub; e-mail questions to

Cookbook author and former restaurateur Stuart Chang Berman prepares his Chinese Salt Shrimp in his Silver Spring kitchen. The recipe is adapted from one his mother sent him when he was a graduate student.