By A.J. Fusco
This dish came together one day when I needed something quick, flavorful, and healthy. Normally, I try to steer clear of shrimp when cooking in the firehouse; the last thing you want is to have a response come in while cooking and then have to reheat shrimp upon returning to the station. Overcooked shrimp reminds me of a piece of gum you have been chewing for way too long—rubbery and flavorless; in other words, not good! However, sometimes in life, you need to take a gamble and roll the culinary dice. Luckily, this time it paid off with uninterrupted cooking and a delicious meal.
Sambal and Hoisin are not words often heard at the firehouse kitchen table, but this recipe is sure to change that. Sambal, particularly Sambal Oelek, is a chili sauce originating from Southeast Asia. It is made with hot red chilis, salt, and some vinegar. Quite honestly, I think it is more versatile than the more popular Sriracha sauce. It definitely packs some heat, but it isn’t overpowering and allows the chili flavor to shine. You could definitely use it on its own, but I find it’s used best when mixed into sauces, marinades, mayo, or anything else that needs a kick. You can find it in most grocery stores now, probably right next to Sriracha, coincidentally.
Hoisin is a Chinese sauce made from a combination of fermented soybean paste, garlic, chilis, vinegar, sesame oil, and some sort of sweetener. Think of it almost like Chinese BBQ sauce! However, its flavor is very potent, so use it much more sparingly than you would American BBQ sauce. It is most commonly used in Cantonese cooking on Peking Duck, which, if you have never tried it, is delicious. When combined with the Sambal, you end up with a sauce that hits those salty, sweet, spicy notes that we all love. This would be killer on some wings too, just sayin’.
Sambal-Hoisin Shrimp with Bok Choy Fried Rice
1 lb. Shrimp; peeled and deveined
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2-inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, grated or minced
Small Bunch of Fresh Basil, leaves picked
3 Scallions, thin sliced
½ cup Hoisin Sauce
2 Tsp. Sambal Oelek Sauce (usually found next to Sriracha)
1 Tbs. Canola or Vegetable Oil
For Bok Choy Fried Rice:
3 C Rice, *
8 Heads of Baby Bok Choy, sliced into 1” pieces
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
¼ Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 Clove Garlic, minced
* Day old rice works best for stir fries. If you don’t have day old rice, cook a batch and spread out on a sheet pan to cool for at least an hour.
For the Shrimp:
- Combine all the ingredients in a ziplock bag or bowl. Stir/shake to combine. Add shrimp and let marinate for 30 minutes to one hour. Remove from marinade and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, add a few drizzles of oil. Carefully add the shrimp to the pan, flipping as needed to cook through and just until they turn pink. Remove the cooked shrimp, toss with some of the basil and scallion, and set aside.
For the Rice:
- Clean out the pan or heat another large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil, followed by the bok choy. Stir the bok choy until it just starts to wilt. Add the garlic and then the rice. Continue stirring while the rice starts to crisp up a bit. Add the soy sauce.
Serve the fried rice, topped with the shrimp and more basil and scallion.
A.J. Fusco started Fork and Hose Company in 2011 by as a way to share his passion for cooking with other firefighters. Over time, it grew to a community of firehouse chefs sharing meals and recipes from all over the world, with a focus on healthier cooking. In 2017, A.J.’s dedication to firehouse cooking landed him on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” twice, and on his first show he won the Salute to Firefighters episode! A.J.’s passion for cooking didn’t stop in the firehouse! He enrolled at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan in 2016 and graduated Top of the Class in the Professional Culinary Arts program. A.J. has worked in professional kitchens in Manhattan and Westchester since graduating and continues to do so on his days off from the firehouse.