I like salt and pepper shrimp 椒鹽蝦, especially when it is freshly cooked when the shell is shattering crispy that we can bite along with the shrimp meat.
I understand some people are skeptical to try a deep-fried dish, but I am eyeing for the tasty and to indulge myself this time. It is suitable for the occasional indulgence and is ideal for any special dinner or gathering.
Salt and pepper shrimp 椒鹽蝦 is a main dish for the Chinese banquet but also serve as an appetizer. Your guest will enjoy a distinctive numbing flavor of Szechuan peppercorn, with shrimp meat that is bouncy in texture and toothsome, and the shattering crisp shrimp shell that you can eat it while it is fresh from the wok.
How to make salt and pepper shrimp (Step by step)
1. Clean and dry the shrimps
- After you purchase the shrimps from the market, clean and trim off the legs and tendrils.
- You can remove the head partially or leave it intact for better presentation, but do not remove the shell, and leave the tail intact.
- Cut the shell open on the back of the shrimp, and deveined.
Salt and pepper shrimp recipe (no shell)?
There are many Chinese shrimps recipes cook the shrimps unshelled, which I do not recommend. The shell protects the shrimp meat from the direct heat of the oil, thereby retain the tenderness and juiciness after deep-frying.
Crispy salt and pepper shrimp
After clearing the shrimps, drain in a colander, then pat dry with a paper towel. It is vital to keep them dry so that they will become crispy after deep-frying. It is also better to wash the shrimps in advance to let them dry for a few hours before deep-frying.
Add some cornstarch to the shrimps right before deep-frying. Cornstarch helps to crisp up the shells.
If you are following this detail, the shell of the shrimps will be exceptionally crispy, to the extent that it will shatter when you bite the shrimps with the shell on. In fact, there are many people like to serve it immediately after deep-frying and eat it this way.
2. Prepare the salt and pepper mix
Two factors determine the success of this dish: the freshness of the shrimps and the Szechuan pepper salt. The salt should not overpower the flavor of the shrimps.
That is why only salt and pepper are used as the seasoning. The original recipe requires using Sichuan peppercorns, which has a numbing feeling on the tongue.
I strongly suggest you use Sichuan peppercorns to get the authentic taste, or at least mix partially with black pepper.
Here are the steps:
- Put the salt and Sichuan peppercorns in a pan and toss it over low heat.
- Then the salt starts to change to light yellow (about three minutes), remove.
- Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to pulverize it to powder.
- Pass through a fine strainer to remove any unwanted large pieces of peppercorns. (If you use mortar and pestle)
3. Prepare the aromatics
The aromatics for this recipes are garlic, scallions, and ginger, which are typical for Chinese dishes.
- Mashed and coarsely chopped the garlic and ginger.
- Cut the scallion into half cm sections. It is more aromatic if you use only the white section of the scallion.
- Saute until aromatic and before mixing with the deep-fried shrimp.
4. Deep-fried shrimps
- Deep-fried in hot oil is the key to create great flavor. The success of the salt and pepper shrimp depends heavily on the moisture of the shrimps, the temperature end duration of deep-frying.
- Deep-frying with hot oil at 200°C/390°F for one minute will yield the best result. If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, that is when the oil starts to turn slightly smoky.
- Deep-fry the shrimps in batches. They will not evenly cook if too congested and may stick to each other in the oil. It will also cause a sudden drop in temperature that will affect the outcome.
- Remove it from the oil once the shell turns translucent. Make sure the shrimps are dry enough to avoid oil splashing.
The shrimp shell will be crispy if you follow all the step as above.
5. Coat the shrimps with the Szechuan pepper salt
Combine the aromatics, the deep-fried shrimps and three-quarters of the salt and pepper mixture in the wok. Have a few quick stirs and flips, remove immediately to avoid overcooking the shrimps.
You can add some chopped chili or chili flakes for a spicier variation. They will adhere to the shell which will be treated with every bite of the shrimps.
Keep the remaining salt and pepper in a plate for dipping, just in case anyone prefers a more intense taste.
The shrimps taste best when served immediately after frying. The shell is still crispy and shatters when you bite into it. It is ideal to eat it on its own or serve along with steamed rice, fried rice or noodles.
- 500g shrimps
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
- 2cm ginger, coarsely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 stalk of scallion, the white section only, coarsely chopped
- 1 red chili, coarsely chopped
- Oil for sauteing and deep-frying
- Clean the shrimps. Trim off the legs and tendrils. Do not remove the shell, and leave the tail intact. Deveined.
- Drain in a colander, then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Add some cornstarch to coat the shrimps right before deep-frying.
- Deep-frying with hot oil near to 200°C/390°F for about a minute. Remove
- Put the salt and Sichuan peppercorns in a pan and toss it over low heat. When the salt starts to change to light yellow (about three minutes), remove. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind it to become powder.
- Saute the garlic, scallions, and ginger with oil.
- Combine the aromatics, the deep-fried shrimps and three-quarters of the salt and pepper mixture in the wok. Have a few quick stirs and flips. Serve.
- KitchenAid KC351OHOBA Shears, Standard, Black
- Soeos Authentic Szechuan Peppercorns (4 Ounces), Grade A Red Peppercorns, Sichuan Peppercorns, Chinese Peppercorns, Less Seeds, Szechuan Flavor Peppercorns, Szechuan Pepper for Mapo Tofu
- Lodge 14 Inch Cast Iron Wok. Pre-Seasoned Wok with Flattened Bottom for Asian Stir Fry and Sautees
- Secura Stainless Steel Deep Fryer with Basket, 3.2 Quart
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Serving Size:4 servings
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 473 Total Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 385mg Sodium: 4565mg Carbohydrates: 23g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 2g Protein: 51g