Because of how I use celery – one stalk at a time – it becomes a regular crop in my vegetable garden. I can harvest the single stalk, leaving the remainder of the plant in the ground to continue growing. Unlike purchasing a whole head at the market – where the remainder will go limp in my crisper drawer before I have a chance to use it up.
I was working on a cookbook for Sauchuk Farm in Plympton MA for their summer CSA. His subscribers will get an incredibly diverse assortment of vegetables, including celery. The celery will keep for up to 3 weeks when stored properly (Coldest part of fridge. Leaves like to be dry in a bag. Stems like to be loose in a bag). You’d still need to use almost a stalk a day to consume it all before it goes flaccid. That creates a menu planning challenge. For that reason, I wanted to make sure I included a few recipes in his cookbook that called for copious amounts of celery.
Last summer, I made a celery Caesar salad which was quite lovely, but decided to go a different route for his book. I opted, instead, for a Chinese stir-fry – a variation of kung pao chicken that I learned at a cooking class in Beijing China. I used cashews instead of peanuts, and shrimp instead of chicken.
Spicy Shrimp, Celery and Cashew Stir-Fry
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and cleaned
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 egg white
3 scallions cut into rounds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs. ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 celery stalks, sliced
¾ cup roasted, salted cashews
2 tbs. plain or peanut oil
½ tsp. salt
1 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. black vinegar or balsamic
2 tsp. shaio xing wine or sherry
2 tbs. water or chicken broth
1 tsp. corn starch
1 – 2 tsp or more chile paste (like sriracha)
In a small bowl, marinade the shrimp with ¼ tsp. salt, soy sauce and egg whites. In a separate bowl, combine all sauce ingredients.
Heat a large over high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and ½ the scallions. Let cook for 1 minute and then add the celery and cashews. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry until the celery turns jade green, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate.
Return the skillet to high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp turn pink and curl up, about 2 minutes. Return the celery and cashews to the pan and the sauce, and stir over the heat for about 1 minute to mix together evenly and blend flavors. Transfer the stir-fry to a platter and garnish with the remaining scallions.
Serve with steamed white or brown rice.