I dedicate this post to my friend Mandy at The Complete Cookbook, who is also working hard to capture delicious food photos.
I sometimes wonder what it is like working for a food magazine as a chef who has the luxury to utilize food stylists and food photographers. Food bloggers are kind of the ultimate jugglers. Not only are we cooking for our blogs and the camera, but we are putting meals on the table for our families at the same time. And while many of us are accomplished home chefs, few are skilled photographers.
My adventures continued today as I tried out my new lighting equipment. I purchased one of those portable mini desktop studios similar to the one in the photo below.
The idea is that the light box distributes the light, and one light on each side mutually eliminates shadows and dark spots. Of course nothing is ever simple. When I started the photo shoot for my shrimp in lobster dish, the two lights were still not enough, so I shined an additional light from the top of the box. This created the uneven lighting that I was striving to eliminate. However, I think I may have achieved an incremental improvement (see below!). The journey goes on and I may stop by the camera shop for some more pointers from an expert.
Shrimp in Lobster Sauce (recipe adapted from Brooklyn, In Memory Most Green)
Contrary to the recipe title, there is no lobster in this dish! The name refers to the sauce in Cantonese-style lobster, but uses shrimp instead of lobster. This Chinese restaurant favorite is easy to make and healthy too. It would be delicious served with pork potstickers or asparagus salad with sesame seeds.
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch (divided)
- 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/4 pound ground pork
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 3 scallions, sliced (divided)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, chopped and soaked in a tablespoon of water
- 1 egg, beaten
Stir together one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water in a small dish. In a large bowl toss the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch and kosher salt.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan or wok over high heat and add peanut oil. Break up the ground pork into little pieces and brown it. Add the garlic, ginger, and 1/3 of the scallions, and stir fry. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, rice cooking wine, and fermented black beans. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Add the shrimp and heat through. Stir in the cornstarch and water mixture until it thickens. Pour in the beaten egg and keep stirring. Remove from heat and add remaining scallions.
Serve with steamed white rice.
Other Chinese favorites
What’s oishii? “Oishii” (pronounced “oy she”) is the Japanese word for delicious. I love sharing great recipes I discover from popular restaurants, cookbooks, food magazines (Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, etc.), tv shows, friends, family, and other blogs. I also develop my own. Please contact me if there is a recipe you would like the test kitchen to consider: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now it’s your turn. Are you a super star food photographer and food stylist? Or do you struggle like me? If you enjoyed this post, we would love to hear from you! Please leave some feedback in the comments section below. -Michael