Cantonese Classic – White Boiled Shrimp (白灼蝦)

by Yi on December 30, 2010 · 11 comments

To start my last post of year 2010 (or the 10th post of Yi Reservation), I’d first like to wish you all a Happy New Year. I also sincerely thank everyone for visiting and making comments on this site. Since Yi Reservation’s official launch on 12/10 there have been over 1000 visitors from every continent. I look forward to sharing more exciting recipes in year 2011 and your continuous support will be much appreciated.

With the holiday spirit in mind, I decided to share a simple Cantonese festival dish called white boiled shrimp. Despite its unappetizing name, white boiled shrimp is one of my favorite Cantonese dishes and perhaps one of the best ways to cook fresh shrimp. As the name suggested, white boiled shrimp is prepared by boiling fresh shrimp in boiling water, which retains all the natural flavor of shrimp and captures the peak of its sweetness (taste) and crunchiness (texture).

By now it’s obviously to you that the freshness of the shrimp is the key to this dish. When I scored some large live shrimp that you see in the recipe, I swear I could almost taste the savoriness of the shrimp. To finish up the dish in restaurant quality, I employed a fault-proof double-cooking method, a trick I picked up from a recent trip to Hong Kong. Shrimp gets cooked very fast so you want to handle as quickly as you can. Once the shrimp is done, I normally serve it hot. The best way to enjoy the shrimp is to peel off the shell and dip the goodness into the sauce (recipe included) or just eat it straight up.

If you are a less experienced cook, this recipe is probably your best bet to amaze people during this New Year’s Eve dinner and watch them fight for the last shrimp :).


12 oz Fresh shrimp (live one preferred)

3 slice Ginger

1 sprig Scallion

2 tbsp Cooking wine (optional)

Scallion Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp Scallion, minced
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
¾ tbsp Sugar
4  tbsp soy sauce

Ginger Vinegar Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp Soy sauce
3 tbsp Black vinegar
½ tbsp Ginger strips

1. Rinse the shrimp in cold water and drain it in dry.

2. To make the scallion dipping sauce, in a small sauce pan over low heat, fry the minced scallion and garlic in 2 tbsp of oil until it turns brown. Pour the oil, scallion, garlic to a bowl and mix with soy sauce, and sugar.

3. To make the ginger sauce, mix the ginger, soy sauce, and vinegar together. Both sauces can be made ahead of the time.

4. Boil 8 cups of water with ginger and scallion in a wok or pot. Add shrimp to the boiling water and cook for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Take the shrimp out as soon as it turns white. Keep the pot of water on stove.

5. Return the shrimp back to the same pot of boiling water. Boil the shrimp for about 30 seconds – 1 minute. Take it out when it turns opaque completely. When the flesh starts to shrink it is a sign that shrimp is overcooked

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 keith August 11, 2011 at 4:52 am

Shrimp looks delicious. But why do you double cook it instead of cooking it once?


2 Yi August 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

Hi Keith, thanks for your question.
A just cooked shrimp is crunchy and juice. The shrimp cooked this way is considered the ideal texture in Chinese cooking.
However the shrimp cooks fast so even you over cook by 10 seconds the shrimp can have a completely different texture (saggy and dry).
The double-cook method is used to make it easier to achieve that perfect texture. By breaking it down to two boils, you get a chance to examine and determine how much longer you need to cook again so it’ll be just cooked.
If the texture of shrimp is not a big concern for you, you can simply cook it once.
Hope this helps.



3 Christine@Christine's Recipes January 5, 2011 at 12:25 am

Oh, how I miss those living shrimps 基圍蝦 in Hong Kong. They are absolutely right for cooking this dish.


4 Angela January 3, 2011 at 4:00 am

This is one of my favorite dishes of all time. Really lets the sweetness of the shrimp shine through. Because, really… there’s nothing better than a sweet, fat, meaty shrimp, perfectly cooked.


5 Yi January 3, 2011 at 8:01 am

Angela,you are absolute right! I am by no means a shrimpoholic but this is the only dish I make when I nice fat and fresh shrimp.


6 Lily December 31, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Wow Yi! This site is amazing! I’m so happy for you! Everything looks so yummy, so easy to read and so easy to just follow your steps. Great job! The new year will DEFINITELY be a great success for your blog. No doubt about it!


7 Yi January 1, 2011 at 1:14 am

Happy New Year Lily! Thanks for checking out my blog. Please come back often for more delicious recipes.


8 alice December 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I am hungry just looking at this. can’t go back to frozen shrimps once you tried the fresh ones.


9 Yi January 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

Alice – Me too. I can probably eat this shrimp everyday.


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