Firecracker Shrimp

Firecracker shrimp recipe

The Spruce / Pete Scherer 

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Firecracker shrimp are an Asian-inspired flavor celebration. A quick and easy treat for all occasions, this dish works as a flavorful appetizer or as an entrée with rice and veggies. Peeled shrimp are tossed in potato starch, fried to crispy perfection, and thoroughly coated in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce, then garnished with sesame, green onion, cilantro, and chile. Each bite-size shrimp explodes with flavor, like a little firecracker. If you love shrimp, these may prove addictive.

The heat level is up to you, depending on your choice of sriracha and the quantity of Thai chile in your garnish. As written, the sauce doesn't bring a ton of heat. That's because concentrating spice in the garnish, rather than the sauce, allows each diner to choose mild or spicy with every bite.

You don't absolutely need a deep fryer for this recipe, but it makes the difference between quick and easy, and longer and a bit messier. A fryer regulates the temperature automatically for consistent results, and its basket keeps the process simple and tidy.

Ingredients

  • Peanut oil (for frying)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root (grated)
  • 1 dash fish sauce
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (26 to 30 count) white shrimp (peeled, deveined, and tail removed)
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • Garnish: sesame seeds
  • Garnish: scallions (sliced on a bias)
  • Garnish: 1 red Thai chile pepper (sliced)
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro (torn)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns (ground)
  • Serving suggestion: rice and steamed vegetable

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add enough peanut oil to a countertop deep fryer or a large, heavy-bottomed pot so that there is 3-inches worth of oil. Preheat to 360 F.

  3. Combine the honey, sriracha, ginger, fish sauce, and lemon juice in a large, wide mixing bowl.

  4. Put the shrimp and potato starch into a gallon zip-close freezer bag and seal. Gently shake and turn the bag to thoroughly coat the shrimp in the potato starch.

  5. In two batches (most likely, depending on the size of your setup), fry the shrimp until they turn pink, and the starch coating becomes crisp and golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Remove the shrimp and shake off the excess oil.

  6. Toss the hot, fried shrimp in the sauce. Garnish with the sesame seeds, sliced scallions, chile pepper, cilantro, and a sprinkle of the Szechuan pepper, if using.

  7. Serve with rice and perhaps a steamed vegetable. Enjoy!

Tips

When buying shrimp, there are a few things to know:

  • The "count" is really about size. The smaller the number, the larger the shrimp. For example, 26 to 30 count means that one pound contains between 26 and 30 shrimp. It's a good bite-size shrimp for this recipe.
  • With that many shrimp per pound, buying them peeled and deveined will save a lot of time and effort.
  • Frozen shrimp is a great option since most fresh shrimp has previously been frozen anyway. Defrost the shrimp per the package instructions before using.

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