Wolfgang Puck

For me, food is the best way to celebrate just about any holiday.

According to the Chinese zodiac, we're now entering the Year of the Dragon, a time of good fortune. So let's observe it by cooking a dish that represents a fortunate New Year for us all.

Noodles are traditionally served at Chinese New Year celebrations, with their lengthy strands representing long lives for those who eat them. So, whatever you do, take care not to cut your noodles when eating the recipe I share with you here. Instead, lift up several strands at a time with your chopsticks and take them into your mouth whole (it's OK to slurp!); or twirl them up western style on your fork, resting the end of its tines in the bowl of a spoon.

Lo mein are traditional Chinese wheat noodles, rounded strands similar to spaghetti. You'll find them dried in Chinese food stores or in the Asian foods section of most markets; but, for the sake of convenience, you should feel free to substitute spaghetti. Whichever you use, be sure to precook the noodles only until al dente, tender but still slightly chewy, and then drain them; they'll continue to cook a bit when you add them to this stir-fry toward the end of cooking.

Speaking of stir-frying, that simple Asian cooking technique speeds the preparation the recipe. It helps to have a wok, which has a curved bottom, which maximizes the cooking surface. It distributes heat evenly, and promotes thorough tossing of the ingredients as you stir them continuously. Today, you can find woks with flattened undersides that enable them to sit stably on a Western-style stove burner; and there are also good electric woks that heat up perfectly to let you do the cooking on a countertop instead. In a pinch, though, you can also use a large skillet with curved sides.

All of the ingredients for this Garlic-Ponzu Shrimp with Lo Mein Noodles dish, adapted from a recipe developed at my Chinois restaurants, can be easily found in one trip to a well-stocked supermarket. Some of them also express a pan-Asian sensibility that extends beyond the Chinese kitchen alone. The ponzu, for example, is a traditional Japanese bottled condiment that combines soy sauce, rice vinegar, and citrus juice. (If you can't find it, mix those three ingredients together to taste.) And then there's a more Western ingredient in the mixture, too: a few tablespoons of butter. Added along with the ponzu towards the end of cooking, it helps bind the sauce together and adds a touch of richness -- just the thing you need for a dish to observe a prosperous New Year.

Garlic-Ponzu Shrimp Recipe with Lo Mein Noodles

Serves 8 to 10

2 pounds fresh large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons soybean or vegetable oil

1 cup sliced fresh organic shiitake mushrooms

1 cup thinly sliced organic baby bok choy leaves

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

2 pounds lo mein noodles or spaghetti, cooked al dente following package instructions, drained

1 cup bottled ponzu sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup thinly sliced organic scallions

Preheat a wok or a large skillet over high heat.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and lightly season them to taste with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the wok and, as soon as the oil is hot enough to swirl easily and is giving off a thin haze, add the shrimp and stir-fry just until they turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a strainer and set aside to drain off the oil.

Drizzle the remaining oil into the hot wok and, as soon as it is hot, add the shiitake mushrooms and the bok choy. Stir-fry just until their colors are bright and they are cooked al dente, tender but still slightly crunchy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and the noodles to the vegetables in the wok, separating the noodles as you do. Stir-fry until the noodles are heated through and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the shrimp to the wok along with the ponzu sauce and butter. Stir-fry, tossing well, just until the butter has melted and the sauce is hot and coats all the ingredients.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl or platter, arranging some shrimp attractively on top. Garnish with the scallions and serve immediately.

Shrimp, Garlic-Ponzu Shrimp, Lo Mein Noodles, Garlic-Ponzu Shrimp with Lo Mein Noodles, Chinese, Wolfgang Puck

 

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Garlic-Ponzu Shrimp with Lo Mein Noodles

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