The more I use my wok, the more perfect it seems — ideally suited not only for stir-frying but deep-frying, braising, and seemingly every kitchen task. Its high sides let you toss food without spilling. Its round shape allows even small amounts of frying oil to pool in the bottom. Its thin, carbon-steel surface heats and cools quickly, allowing for superior temperature control. I have pans that cost five times as much, but they don't seem to come down from the shelf much these days. I find myself using it even for non-Asian dishes, including this zesty shrimp recipe adapted from the America's Test Kitchen book Cooking for Two.
This dish takes on Southwestern character with chipotles, cilantro, and avocado. Interestingly, it calls for a sprinkle of sugar on the shrimp to help with caramelization and browning.
1. Peel and devein 1 pound of extra-large shrimp. Mix the shrimp in a bowl with a dash of olive oil and pinches of sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Core, seed and chop 1 tomato (or substitute an equivalent amount of canned crushed tomatoes). Mince 2 chipotles from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Slice 2 scallions, separating white and green parts. Mince 3-4 garlic cloves and a quarter bunch of cilantro. Dice half an avocado.
3. Heat 1 T. oil in a wok or skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cooking, without moving, until spotty brown on one side, about 1 minute. Transfer shrimp to a bowl (they will be underdone).
4. Return the wok to high heat and add the tomato, chipotles, scallion whites, garlic and cilantro. Cook 1 minute, adding a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
5. Return the shrimp to the wok and continue to cook until just done, about 1 minute. Serve over white rice, sprinkled with the scallion greens and avocado. Feeds 2.