Dish No. 47: General Poke-Her-Face Prawns at Xiao Ye
Welcome to 100 Dishes to Eat Now, Fork in the Road's handy list of some of our favorite dishes -- old standbys and new finds alike -- compiled daily.
Today's pick: General Poke-Her-Face Prawns ($18) at Xiao Ye (198-B Orchard Street).
Eddie Huang's new Taiwanese-ish spot Xiao Ye is serving what he calls American-born-Chinese diner food, where you can munch lowbrow delights like Cheeto-fried chicken and gochujang grilled cheese. But the General Poke-Her-Face prawns, which have been on the menu since the beginning, offer pleasure that's a little bit more complex and refined -- a take on General Tso's with a jokey name and a taste that's anything but a joke.
The sauce is a zesty ginger-garlic-chile-Sichuan peppercorn concoction that tastes quite a bit like Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe for kung pao chicken. But it's the head-on shrimp themselves that make this dish lodge in your mind. They're fried until crisp -- so crisp that they cut up your mouth as you crunch them down whole, the shells giving way like potato chips into the sweet, tender meat and briny, delicious head-goop. You can eat the dried red chiles, too, their heat having been mellowed and deepened by toasting in hot oil.
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