There are varying stories behind this famous dish – Longjing Shrimp – from Hangzhou, China, but the most common hails back to the Qing Dynasty where, rumour has it, the emperor Qianlong – who had a rather discerning palate and appetite – was so enamoured with the taste of the local Longjing (Dragon Well green tea) that he stashed away handfuls of the tea leaves in the pockets of a cape he wore to disguise himself from the public.
Resting at an inn from the rain, he asked a waiter to prepare him a cup of Longjing. As he removed the leaves from his cape, the waiter caught a glimpse of his imperial robe beneath. In shock and a hurry the waiter ran to tell the kitchen that the emperor was indeed among them. The chef, also surprised and slightly dazed, mistook the Longjing leaves for chopped spring onions and absent-mindedly stirred them into a shrimp dish he was preparing.
Served to the emperor, who was famished, he quickly devoured the plate that won him over with the pearly pink shrimp peppered with soft, green tea leaves. Ever since, the dish has remained a speciality.
Serves: 6 | Time: 30-mins (plus chilling time)
- 350g raw peeled shrimp or raw king prawns
- 7g loose Longjing – Dragon Well – tea leaves
- 1 egg white
- 1tbsp cooking oil
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 2g salt
- 1tsp Chinese cooking wine
- 2g Essence of chicken (optional)
- Mix the raw shrimp or prawns with egg white, cooking wine and corn starch. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
- Infuse your tea leaves with 100ml of 70-degree water for 2-minutes, and then separate the infusion from the leaf.
- Heat a wok with oil until hot, adding the shrimps and cooking until just pink. Remove the shrimps and set aside.
- Wiping the wok clean, add a little cooking wine and the tea liquid and bring to a simmer.
- Return the shrimps to the wok and cook until the liquid has reduced. Scatter with reserved tea leaves and serve.
Dragon Well Green Tea
One of the most famous green teas of China, Longjing – aka Dragon Well – an authentic example has unmistakable roasted chestnut notes, a creamy finish and a delicate floral aroma that complements other dishes of delicate character extremely well.