When choosing a restaurant in Taiwan, do not let the (lack of) decor fool you, as it does not say anything about the quality of the food. Besides, most restaurants look like this so you would probably starve if you wouldn’t eat here because of how it looks. This is Liyuan Seafood Restaurant (柘園海鮮餐廳) near Sail Rock, just East of Kenting on the South coast of Taiwan, where we had one of our best meals in Taiwan.
Most Taiwanese restaurants do not sell wine. They usually have a refrigerator with beer and soft drinks, from which you can serve yourself. There are bottle openers on the tables, and when you leave they simply count the bottles on your table. It is allowed to bring your own drinks (I was even encouraged to go to the supermarket next door when I asked for something they didn’t have). Service is usually quick and dishes are brought to the table as they are ready (rather than serving everything at once). Dishes are shared between everyone at the same table, with a revolving plateau in the center of larger tables to facilitate this. Restaurant food is very cheap — we usually had a meal for two including drinks for less than 20 euros.
The freshness of the seafood at Liyuan was clear: the shrimp were still alive just minutes before we ordered them.
With the help of Google Translate we managed to order a plate of the shrimp that we had seen outside in the tank. They were amazing, stir fried with green onions, garlic, chilli, and some fermented black beans. It looks nice to serve them in the shell like this and it is less work for the chef, but it is a bit messy to peel them and you have to make sure to dip them in the delicious sauce.
So when making something similar at home, I decided to use peeled shrimp. Unfortunately, live jumbo shrimp are not available around here, so I had to make do with frozen ones. They are not as sweet as the really fresh ones, but otherwise this was pretty close to the dish as I remember it. I should have used more green onions (which I already changed in the list of ingredients below). Make sure to have all the ingredients ready as you need to work quickly to prevent overcooking the shrimp. They should be tender and juicy rather than rubbery and dry. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings
300 grams (.66 lb) large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry with paper towels
3 scallions / green onions, sliced
1/2 red chilli pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fermented black beans, finely minced
vegetable oil for stir frying, I used peanut oil
shaoxing rice wine
Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil in a wok. Add the chilli and green onions and stir fry for a minute.
Add the garlic and stir fry very briefly. Make sure the garlic does not turn brown.
Add the shrimp very quickly after the garlic.
Stir fry just until the shrimp has changed color. Then add the minced fermented black beans.
Stir and add a glug of shaoxing rice wine.
Stir and add a glug of soy sauce. Stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce, then turn off the heat.
(No additional salt is needed as the black beans and soy sauce contain plenty of salt.)
Serve at once.
Although no wine is provided in Taiwan, at home we enjoyed this with a dry gewurztraminer from Alto Adige (Südtirol) in North-East Italy.
These cheese enchiladas with chilli con carne are great comfort food the winter.