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Salt and Pepper Shrimp and 3-Cup Chicken with Rice

A quick shrimp appetizer and easy chicken dish make this the best takeout you never have to order. The chicken is a riff on the 3-cup meal that everyone is trying. There are as many recipes for this as there are cooks that make it -- here's mine.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

Salt and Pepper Shrimp:

About 2 teaspoons ground white pepper

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper 

OR 

1 teaspoon ground white pepper 

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper 

1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn 

About 1 teaspoon salt 

About 2 teaspoons (1/2 palm full) 5-spice powder

6 cloves garlic 

1 inch ginger root 

1 small head iceberg lettuce 

Neutral oil, such as safflower or peanut oil 

1 to 1 1/4 pounds (about 20) shrimp, deveined, head-on, unpeeled shrimp (Ask the fishmonger to devein but leave shrimp intact or do it yourself with small sharp knife.) 

About 1/3 cup Shaoxing or dry sherry or white wine 

1 lime, juiced 

3 to 4 scallions, chopped 

3-Cup Chicken and Rice:

1 1/2 cups water

Salt 

1 cup jasmine rice 

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs 

6 to 8 large cloves garlic, 1 bulb 

About 2 inches ginger root 

About 3 tablespoons sesame oil 

1/2 cup Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry sherry or white wine 

About 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce 

About 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 

About 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 

1 bunch scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces 

2 cups loosely packed Thai basil or 12 basil leaves, torn 

Directions

  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. For the shrimp: Combine the peppers, salt and 5-spice powder in a small bowl or ramekin. Crush the garlic with a hard whack of the knife placed flat over the cloves and hitting them with the heel of your hand. Peel away the skins and clean away the hard root ends. Peel and grate or slice or chop the ginger root. Core and quarter the lettuce and reserve half for another use. Shred the remaining lettuce very thinly and line a platter with it.
  3. Heat the oil, 2 slow turns of the pan, in a large, shallow nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and swirl. Add shrimp and cook, tossing the shrimp until pink and opaque or firm, 4 to 5 minutes. Add Shaoxing or alternative and lime juice and swirl to absorb into shrimp, 1 minute. Top with scallions. Slide the shrimp onto the lettuce.
  4. For the chicken and rice: Heat the water for rice in a 3-quart saucepot to a boil. Salt water, add rice and reduce heat to simmer. Cook rice covered for 15 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Turn off heat and fluff with fork.
  5. Cut chicken into large bite-size pieces. Pop skins of garlic and halve the cloves. Peel ginger with tip of a teaspoon. Julienne the ginger into thin sticks or very thinly slice it into rounds.
  6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil, garlic and ginger; do not let them brown, swirl constantly a minute or 2. Then add the chicken and tuck the garlic and ginger in between. Let the chicken brown 3 to 4 minutes. Turn, add rice wine, dark and light soy sauces, light brown sugar and scallions and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and braise about 12 minutes.
  7. Uncover the chicken and raise heat to thicken sauce a bit. Add basil to serve.
  8. Serve the chicken from the pan and transfer the rice to a bowl.