The selection of rice vinegars in an Asian market is astonishing. There are three basic types--red, white and black.
The black vinegar called for in this recipe is similar to balsamic vinegar. It's made from sweet rice, and although still acidic, it is slightly sweet and smoky. It is usually used in dipping sauces and stir-fries.
As with most Chinese recipes, most of the work here is preparation. Once everything is measured and chopped, dinner can be on the table in about five minutes.
Plate from Crate & Barrel stores.
Sichuan Shrimp and Crab
Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Chile bean sauce and Chinese black vinegar are sold at Asian markets. Buy the shrimp already shelled and deveined to save time. Good quality canned crab is available in most grocery stores.
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chile bean sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound crab meat
Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and green onions and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir in the tomato paste, chile bean sauce, black vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.
Mix together the chicken broth and cornstarch and set aside.
After about 2 minutes the mixture in the wok will look thick and somewhat sticky. Add the shrimp and crab and cook, stirring, until the shrimp have become pink and no longer translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and the sauce will thicken almost immediately.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to package directions, about 4 minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Drain the noodles and add them to the pan to form a pancake-like shape. Cook until the underside of the noodles is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the noodles and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Place the noodles on a platter and top with Sichuan Shrimp and Crab.