Yin-Yang Shrimp with Hawthorn Dipping Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This was one of the most popular specialties of the chefs from the Imperial Herbal restaurant during their stay in Boston. You can fry the shrimp in advance and reheat them just before serving.

NotesHawthorn promotes digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive juices, dissolves cholesterol deposits in the lining of blood vessels, and lowers blood pressure.

Black sesame seeds, which are from a black variety of sesame plant, are used extensively in Chinese medicine. They share the qualities of the white seeds and are believed to vitalize the internal organs of the body.

*Hawthorn is the fruit of a Chinese plant related to the Western hawthorn. The dried fruit is sold in Chinese herbal stores, but the wafers used in this recipe may be purchased at an Asian market.

6 servings

Cooking Methodpan-frying



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationhealthy

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturesavory, spiced

Type of Dishskewer


  • 2¼ pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine or sake
  • 4 whole scallions, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
  • 4 slices fresh ginger, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 8 packages hawthorn wafers (12.5 grams apiece), softened in ½ cup boiling water for about 15 minutes, then mashed through a sieve*
  • 3½ tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons clear rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 14 6-inch bamboo skewers
  • ½ cup white sesame seeds
  • ½ cup black sesame seeds
  • ½ cup canola or corn oil


  1. Holding a sharp knife or a cleaver parallel to the cutting board, score each shrimp along the back. (The scoring will allow the shrimp to curl when cooked.) Place the shrimp in a bowl and add the Shrimp Marinade. Toss lightly to coat the shrimp and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes, or longer if possible.

  2. Mix the Sweet and Sour Hawthorn Sauce in a saucepan and heat until thickened, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Keep warm and, before serving, pour it into a small serving dish.

  3. Add the egg to the marinated shrimp and thread four shrimp per skewer. Place the white and black sesame seeds on separate plates.

  4. Dip one side of the skewered shrimp in the white sesame seeds, turn over, and dip the other side in the black. Arrange on a cookie sheet.

  5. Heat a large skillet, add the olive oil, and heat to about 375°F. Lay 3 or 4 of the skewers in the pan and fry until the white sesame seeds are golden brown, about 3 minutes; then turn and fry the black seeds, about 3 minutes. Remove with a pair of tongs, and drain briefly in a colander; then drain on absorbent paper. Reheat the oil when necessary before adding the next batch and skim the loose sesame seeds from the oil between batches. Arrange the drained shrimp on a serving platter, alternating white and black sides. Serve with the Sweet and Sour Hawthorn Sauce.


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