Longjing prawns (or Prawns stir-fried with Longjing tea leaves), is the most famous chinese dish to use tea as an ingredient. Longjing prawns is one of Zhejiang cuisine’s signature dishes at banquets to welcome outsiders to the province.
In China, tea is more than just a drink, it’s a cooking ingredient. Likely the most famous dish to use it as an ingredient is one from Zhejiang cuisine, Longjing prawns (or Prawns stir-fried with Longjing tea leaves). Stories say that when Emperor Qianlong visited a restaurant in Hangzhou incognito, he asked the waiter to brew his Longjing tea. The waiter accidentally noticed the corner of an imperial robe poking out from Qianlong’s gown, so he rushed back to the kitchen to tell his boss, who was preparing the prawns, about the emperor’s arrival. The boss was so stunned by the news that he knocked the tea leaves into the wok. Unexpectedly, after Qianlong tried the dish, he had nothing but praise for it. After that, Longjing prawns became one of Zhejiang cuisine’s signature dishes at banquets to welcome outsiders to the province.
What surprises for your tongue await when the green aromas of Longjing tea meet the crystalline freshness of prawns? Do you want to try the flavor that surprised Qianlong for yourself? Then settle in and get ready to cook it!
Longjing tea leaves
1. Remove shells and intestines from the prawns. Rinse in clean water, then drain and set aside.
2. Place prawns in a bowl, add a spoon of cooking wine and egg whites, and stir. After stirring, add a pinch of starch, and set aside to allow flavor to settle.
3. Use water heated to 70-80℃ to soak Longjing tea leaves for one minute, then strain the liquid from the tea leaves. Keep both the liquid and the leaves.
4. Preheat oil to just before boiling, then stir-fry prawns briskly for no longer than 30 seconds, and quickly remove them from the wok to avoid overcooking.
5. Leave a small amount of oil in the wok, then pour in prawns, the liquid and leaves from the tea, cooking wine, and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry, then pour finished dish onto plate.
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Published in Confucius Institute Magazine
Magazine 43. Volume 2. March 2016.
View the PDF print edition