Cold Spicy Shrimp, Zucchini, and Tree Ears

Here’s another one of those spectacular Asian dishes you can prepare ahead of time, chill, and whip out at the last minute, smiling modestly at how brilliant and efficient you are. Try to be humble.

Jerry Weinberg

Cold Spicy Shrimp, Zucchini, and Tree Ears

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Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Five Spice
Servings: 4 servings


  • ¾ pound shrimp (cleaned, halved lengthwise)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ cup mushrooms (tree ears!)
  • 1 medium zucchini (sliced in half, then the two halves sliced in 1/4" slices)
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash (cleaned and sliced as above)
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 small red peppers (small, dried)
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup red wine (or fruit-flavored unsweetened vinegar)
  • ½ cup honey


  • Marinate shrimp in salt and baking soda for one hour, then rinse well.
  • Soak mushrooms in cold water for 30 minutes till soft, then trim of any hard ends and cut into approximately 3/4" chunks, rinse well.
  • Boil briefly 1-2 minutes. Shrimps will curl into corkscrews. Taste for doneness, remove and chill.
  • In boiling, lightly salted water, blanch the 2 squashes for a bit over a minute till tender — al dente, stirring gently. With strainer, gently remove to bowl of ice water and cool.
  • Put oils in medium saucepan with the peppers and the peppercorns. Heat oils and cook, stirring the whole while for 3 or 4 minutes, till pods are blackened. Pour oil through a strainer over a metal bowl, and discard the bigger solids.
  • Return oil to pan, add vinegar and honey.
  • Bring to boil. Lower heat and let bubble, stirring for three minutes. Remove saucepan and chill in fridge till cool, then pour into jar. Store in refrigerator.
  • On an attractive white or dark platter, overlap zucchini and yellow squash slices in circular floral design, add similar layer of tree ears, not covering the squashes. Then do the same with the shrimps.
  • Cover with a piece of waxpaper, then tightly cover that with plastic wrap. Chill. This may be done hours before. When serving, uncover the food and pour sauce over everything. This is equally at home as a buffet-table appetizer or a main dish.

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