Takeout at Home: Sesame Shrimp and Broccoli

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as my friend bruce so kindly pointed out last week, i’ve been really into all things asian lately (when it comes to food, at least). this is sort of funny, because asian food used to be the one food i didn’t dare cook at home. i assumed the sauces were so complicated that i’d inevitably mess them up, that sesame chicken was better left to the folks at my local chinese restaurant. but then i made orange sesame chicken at home, and it looked just like it did in the restaurant, but tasted even better because i’d made it myself. i was so proud in that moment, sprinkling my toasted sesame seeds atop chicken that was practically perfect in every way (and loaded with calories, i’m sure – but let’s forget about that for a moment). 

making sesame chicken gave me the much needed confidence to attempt other takeout at home classics – like this recipe for sesame shrimp and broccoli, which i stumbled upon whilst doing my daily perusal of pinterest. the sauce isn’t perfect (in fact, i think next time i make this, i may use my original orange sesame chicken sauce instead of this one) – but it was fast, easy, and pretty darn good the next day when i ate it at my desk for lunch. Image

i only happened to have teeny tiny baby shrimp on hand at home, but i’d recommend you make this recipe with bigger shrimp for a bit more bite. also, i ended up having a ton of extra sauce, which is currently sitting in my fridge waiting for something new to smother. i’m thinking tofu might work.

The Recipe (found at I want a nap)

  • 1 ½ cup water
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

to make, set a pot of water on to boil for your white rice (if you don’t have any made already). generally, the ratio for rice is 2 to 1, ie, 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. while it boils, chop up a head of broccoli and lightly toast some sesame seeds (about 2 teaspoons worth) in a skillet. keep an eye on them, these babies burn quickly! your water should be boiling by now – add your rice and turn the heat down to low. cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is fluffy.

next, make the sauce. mix 1 1/4 cup water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, bouillon cube, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 minced garlic cloves in a medium sauce pan. whisk to combine. in a small bowl, mix the corn starch and remaining 1/4 cup water, then stir cornstarch mixture into the saucepan mixture. whisk until smooth.

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cornstarch is a thickening agent, and one i’m learning is used in a lot of chinese dishes. sometimes, it’ll be added to the dough of a frying recipe (giving those crunchy bits on the outside that we’re all used to eating at our favorite restaurants), sometimes, it’ll be used to thicken up the sauce. in this case, it’s the latter. mixing it with water ensures that it enables an equal level of thickening power; if you were to just dump the cornstarch (which looks similar to confectioners sugar) straight in, you’d just get little lumps of starch that you wouldn’t be able to mix out. 

heat your sauce on medium heat, stirring often, until it thickens. this should be about seven minutes. remove from heat and set aside. check on your rice. it should be about halfway done by now.

now it’s time for the goodies. heat sesame oil and olive oil in a skillet. once it’s hot (test by throwing a drop of cold water on the oil – if it reacts, you’re good to go!), add your broccoli and saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the broccoli is equally cooked on all sides. now, add your shrimp, as well as the remaining diced garlic. saute until cooked through and pink, about 3-4 minutes. 

remove shrimp and broccoli from heat and toss with the sauce – don’t pour it all on, because you’ll likely have extra! your rice should be done by now, so spoon a bit of it into a big bowl (like the one pictured above) and top with the shrimp and broccoli mixture. sprinkle a few sesame seeds on top, et voila! a delicious takeout meal at home, in about 20 minutes. 

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