Hot and Sour Prawns
This hot dish is a great way to enliven plain stir-fried or boiled noodles or steamed rice.
2 cups fresh tiger prawns
½ teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup water
2 tablespoons black rice vinegar
½–1 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil (page 23)
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 4 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying
Shell and devein the prawns. Rinse in warm water and pat dry with paper towels. Marinate the prawns in the rice wine, salt, and cornstarch for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan, bring the water, black rice vinegar, Hot Chili Oil, and Worcestershire sauce to a boil. Add the cornstarch-and-water mixture, stirring quickly to thicken. Turn the heat to low and keep warm.
Add oil to a preheated wok or skillet. When oil is hot, add the prawns and stir-fry briefly, until they turn pink. Push up to the side and add the sauce in the middle of the wok. Mix the prawns with the sauce. Serve hot.
Yin and Yang Harmony
The philosophy of yin and yang permeates every aspect of Chinese culture, including the kitchens of its cooks. Yin and yang represent all the forces in the universe. Things that are feminine, cold, dark, or submissive are said to be yin in nature, while masculinity, heat, light, and dominance are yang forces. Chinese physicians frequently treat illness as an imbalance between yin and yang in the body. For example, since heartburn is thought to come from consuming too many spicy yang foods, a physician might prescribe a soup featuring yin ingredients like walnuts as a tonic.