Shrimp in Szechwan Spicy Sauce

This is from one of the "Frugal Gourmet" cookbooks by Seattle-based Jeff Smith.  Actually, the recipe calls for scallops, not shrimp, but I use shrimp.  It's pretty good.  This is actually a "doubled" recipe which is how I always make it.  The thickening agent at the end is my own addition but is pretty normal in Chinese cooking and used in other recipes in his cookbook.

Jeff Smith unfortunately had a troubled history.  He started as an ordained minister and was chaplain at the University of Puget Sound before beginning a food career.  His "Frugal Gourmet" cooking show on PBS was pretty popular until sometime in the mid-90's.  Then he was accused in several lawsuits of sexually abusing some young boys who had worked for him.  The lawsuits were settled out-of-court and he was never charged with a crime, but it ended the TV show and his career.  In failing health, he was still seen often in the Pike's Peak marketplace riding a motorized cart.  He died in 2004 at age 65, leaving behind a wife and two sons. 

1-1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and de-veined (if desired)

3 or 4 dried red chili peppers, soaked in hot water for one hour, drained, seeded, and minced (those little, dark red peppers about the shape of a skinny 2-inch long green bean.  You see them all the time in Chinese cooking.  I've seen them called Thai peppers and Japanese peppers too)

4 tablespoons light soy sauce (not "lite".  "Light" is a style of soy sauce, like "light brown sugar", not a diet thing.  Anyway I can never find it so I use regular soy sauce)

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or Chinese red vinegar

2 tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine (I use sherry)

Peanut oil

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I probably use a little more.  After grating I finely chop it with a knife)

4 cloves garlic, minced

12 green onions, cut into long thin slivers lengthwise

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time.  Mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sherry, and minced red chili peppers.

Heat a couple tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Stir fry the shrimp over high heat for a couple minutes, until they change color and lose their translucency (in other words, until mostly done).  Remove from wok. 

Add a couple more tablespoons of peanut oil and heat over high heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry quickly for just a few seconds until fragrant (try not to let the garlic brown).  Immediately add the green onions and stir-fry for a few seconds until hot and slightly wilting.  Add the shrimp back in and toss for a few seconds, then pour in the sauce mixture and toss some more.  Push the shrimp and onions away from the center of the wok and pour the cornstarch/water mixture into the pooled sauce.  Stir a little, it will almost immediately thicken the sauce and become bubbly.  Toss with the shrimp and onions again, and then serve over rice.