Hong Kong Boozehounds: Drunken Shrimp

When I go, I want to be  blissed out in a puddle of rice wine too.  So it went for these tiny shrimp as they unsuspectingly paddled about in the formidable liquid.  I had bought these tiny shrimp just one hour prior at a live seafood shop in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong.  Every morning, my dad and I would brave a jog through the maze of the offensive dolphin statues that obstructed the beach just to arrive at the seafood market in Tuen Mun.  The largest attraction was Hoi Tin Garden, a seafood restaurant that was blindly given the Wall Street Journal stamp of approval on their '10 Best Restaurants in Asia' list.  Patrons from far and wide would come and visit the seafood vendors that lined the outside restaurant, inspect the illustrious display of crustaceans (things you would only dream of seeing in Planet Earth) and order straight from the tank.  They would then go into the restaurant, fold their legs neatly under a table, sip warm tea out of ceramic cups, eat jellyfish with their chopsticks, and wait for their seafood to arrive.  I always wanted to play along, selecting beautiful razor clams and langostines from the large tanks, but my parents felt that the restaurant was overpriced.  Plus, everything there was farmed.

Around the corner, there was a dingy kiosk that I liked to call my fish vendor.  From styrofoam tubs, the owners sold live wild-caught fish and shrimp.  They bought their bounty from local fisherman and sold it to old women looking to make great soup.  The freshness of their was fish tantamount.  Once it sputtered its last breath, a fish would decrease in price 4-fold.  It was there where I bought my tiny sweet shrimp.

In my family we value the small shrimp.  The big prawns have always been a challenge for me to eat.  So much bulk, not enough flavor, always overcooked.  The small ones cook for but a second.  If they are small enough, you need not even shell.  The head tears off easily and you suck out its broth.  Everything goes down in one bite.  A week prior to our shrimp cookery, my dad had eaten at a marvelous restaurant in Shanghai; he had never had shrimp so small and sweet.  We aimed to re-create it.

DRUNKEN SHRIMP Total time 30 mins, serves 2

  • 1/2 lb Tiny shrimp, alive
  • 2T rice wine
  • 2t sugar
  • 2T oil
  • 1/2t cracked black pepper
1. Combine shrimp, rice wine, and sugar in a bowl and marinate for 20 minutes.  The shrimp will stop moving.
2. Peel the shrimp if the shells are thick.  Behead the creatures if they make you nervous. Remove the eggs from the females.
3. Heat the oil in a wok on high.  Add the shrimp.  Cook the shrimp for a moment on one side before shuffling them around with a spatula.  The idea is to get some orange color on them.   At the point when you are not sure if they are fully cooked or not, remove them from the fire.  Add the pepper.  Toss.  They are done.  They should pop in your mouth.

4.  Serve immediately with the roe as garnish on the side.

Alternatively, you can artfully line all the eggs up in chromatic order as to come off as cerebral and artsy.


  1. ewww...to that last picture....bumps galore. The rest looks damn tasty though and your food photography is great!


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