CHINESE SEAFOOD BIRD NEST
A seafood lover’s dream, the Chinese seafood bird nest, is typically offered in upscale Cantonese restaurants. For weddings, Lunar New Year’s dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, and even baby showers, a classic 10-course Chinese banquet may also be served.
It doesn’t matter what the occasion is; this seafood meal is the perfect way to celebrate. At home, we’re busy making preparations for the Chinese New Year.
It’s a Seafood Medley
Chinese Seafood Bird Nest features a trio of large shrimp, squid, and scallops.
The ingredients of the bird’s nest are stir-fried in a white sauce, similar to Moo Goo Gai Pan, with decoratively sliced, colorful fresh veggies and aromatic garlic, ginger, and scallions. In Cantonese cuisine, these flavors are at the heart of everything.
WHICH MATERIALS ARE IN THE “NEST?”
In light of this, let’s examine the vexing topic of what the bird’s nest—a chalice of seafood—is constructed of. There you go, taro, the Woks of Life’s favorite tuber!
In addition to its earthy aroma and flavor, fried taro can be used as an edible basket to carry delicate, saucy seafood.
Although it requires a lot of time and effort, the taro seafood bird nest will impress your guests at the dinner table. It’s worth it to wow loved ones, close friends, significant others, in-laws, and anyone who doubts your culinary abilities beyond cold cereal and toast on special occasions!
- 4 cups of taro (julienned)
- 6 cups of canola oil (for frying)
- 6 large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 6 large diver or sea scallops
- 6 oz. of whole squid (cleaned)
THE REST OF THE DISH:
- 3 tbsp. of canola oil (divided)
- 8 slices of ginger (⅛-inch thick)
- 2 scallions (white parts only, sliced into 1½-inch pieces)
- 2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
- ½ of a carrot (cut into ⅛-inch thick)
- ½ cup of bamboo shoots (washed)
- ¼ of whole red bell pepper (cut into 1-inch slices)
- ½ cup of straw mushrooms
- 1 cup of sugar snap peas (remove the tips)
- 1 small red onion (1-inch cut)
- 2 tsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 1 cup of hot chicken stock
- 1 tsp. of salt
- ¼ tsp. of sugar
- 1/8 tsp. of ground white pepper
- ½ tsp. of sesame oil
- 1½ tbsp. of cornstarch (mixed with 1½ tablespoons warm water, optional)
- Taro can be used in various ways, one of which is to strain it by using a large steel mesh strainer, with some of the taro extending beyond the edges. After julienned, the taro will be slightly wet and starchy, which is ideal for optimum adhesion. Set the taro strands between the steel mesh strainer and the second one, which should be the same size.
- Using a thermometer, check the temperature of 6 cups of oil in a wok or saucepan and add the “nest,” which is still sandwiched between the two strainers, to the oil. Fry the taro basket until golden brown, tilting the basket at various angles to ensure even browning. A wok for frying is preferable, but a deep pot large enough to fit the basket can also be used. Place the taro basket carefully and slowly into the pot. Taro baskets can cause oil to expand and overflow if your pot is too small and your oil is too close to the pot’s rim. To prevent this, use a deeper pot or wok.
- If you’re having seafood, clean your shrimp and scallops before serving them.
- Remove the squid’s hard skeleton pieces by separating the tentacles and the body. Drain the tentacles before using them. Remove the internal skeleton by cutting the mantle into flat pieces. The squid should not be cut through when scoring the flat sections into 2 by 3-inch rectangles in a criss-cross pattern.
- When the water in the wok comes to a boil, slowly stir in the shrimp and scallops until they are just opaque (approximately 20 seconds). Remove them from the water and set them on a dish. Only about 70 percent cooked is needed for the shrimp and scallops to cook in the final step of this recipe.
- After blanching the squid, remove them from the water and place them on a serving dish. Squid that has been chopped and blanched into curls may be available in the freezer department of Asian grocery stores; if you can get your hands on it, it’s a convenient shortcut!
- Two teaspoons of oil should be sprayed outside your wok before you begin cooking. The oil should be hot enough to readily glide around the wok but not so hot that it starts to shimmer.
- Fry the ginger slices for about 10 seconds in the wok. After another 10 seconds of stirring, add the scallion and garlic.
- Turn the heat to high and add the carrots, bamboo stalks, and peppers. 30 seconds of stir-frying is all it takes before adding mushrooms, snap peas, and onion.
- Shaoxing wine is then added, and the seafood is mixed in. Add the heated chicken stock and continue to stir-fry for another minute. Adding hot or boiling chicken stock to the wok helps maintain it hot enough for a nice stir fry, which may be challenging to achieve on most standard burners. How much chicken stock you use will depend on how thick of a sauce you desire.
- Toss in the seasonings as the sauce comes to a boil, and toss everything together until it’s well incorporated. Avoid overcooking your shellfish by adding too many ingredients to the sauce with a spoon!
- Add the cornstarch and water to a bowl and whisk to incorporate. Slowly pour the mixture into the wok while swirling. You can add more or less of the sauce or even leave it out entirely to obtain a good coating on all the components.
- Prepare your taro basket and serve the combination right away.