Don't let the make-ahead fennel oil fool you -- this is a quick recipe that is perfect for a weeknight dinner; it just requires a little more forethought than some. Use a rasp-style grater (such as a Microplane) for the ginger and garlic if you have one. Because the garlic and ginger are grated so finely, they're added to the stir-fry later than usual, and cook them just long enough to get rid of the raw flavor.
At least a day ahead, make the oil:
Moisten the ground fennel with a few drops of water, just enough so that it adheres to itself slightly when squeezed. In a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, stir together the moistened ground fennel and olive oil. Seal and refrigerate overnight or up to a week. Before using, warm the oil to room temperature and strain through cheesecloth.
Make the stir-fry:
In a large sauté pan or stir-fry pan, heat 3 Tbs. of the fennel oil over medium-high heat (the oil is hot enough when you put a sugar snap in the pan and it starts to sizzle). Add the sugar snaps, season with some of the salt, and stir-fry until the peas have a bit of a golden color and are crunchy and blistery, about 2 minutes. (they'll be crisp-tender). Add the fennel, season with a bit more salt, and stir-fry until the fennel is al dente, about 60 seconds. Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp, toss well, and make a space in the center of the pan. Into this space, pour the remaining fennel oil and then add the garlic and ginger, stirring for about 15 seconds. Season with a bit more salt and continue to stir-fry until shrimp are no longer glossy and start to look pink and opaque. Taste and add more salt if you like, scatter the mint on top, and serve with the lime wedges on the side.
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Scott Phillips