This shrimp recipe stirs a happy summer memory
When my good friends Kevin and Lauren lived on Avenue M in Galveston, their home had a wide, welcoming porch, the kind on which us Southerners sip their morning coffee and spend their evenings spinning stories. On a particularly nice summer day, they enticed us over with the promise of cold beer and Kevin’s fried shrimp.
Crispy, golden and served hot from a paper towel-lined plate, those shrimp were one of life’s simple pleasures. In that moment of waning sunlight, surrounded by friends and peals of laughter, I knew there was nothing better and proceeded to eat an embarrassing amount. I’ve been chasing that feeling and those shrimp ever since.
This recipe, albeit heavy with Asian flavors, does that memory and those original shrimp justice.
Asian-Style Fried Shrimp
2½ tablespoons fish sauce, divided
2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce, divided
7 garlic cloves, minced, divided
2½ teaspoons white pepper, divided
3 teaspoons red pepper flakes, divided
1½ pounds raw Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce, plus extra for serving
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Vegetable oil, for frying
In a medium bowl, add 1½ tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 6 garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons white pepper and 2 teaspoons pepper flakes, whisking to combine. Add shrimp to marinade, stir to distribute marinade and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, whisk together chili sauce, vinegar, remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce, remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce, remaining 1 garlic clove, remaining ½ teaspoon white pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper flakes in large bowl. Set aside.
In a second large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, water and baking powder until smooth. Add shrimp and marinade to batter; stir well to coat. Set aside.
Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about 2 inches deep. Heat over medium-high to 375 F. Place a wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and line with three layers of paper towels.
Working in small batches, place shrimp in the hot oil one at a time, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Cook until deep golden brown, stirring gently as needed to prevent shrimp from sticking together. Maintain oil temperature between 350 and 375 F, adjusting the burner as necessary.
Transfer shrimp to prepared rack. Allow oil to recover to 375 F and repeat with remaining shrimp in small batches.
Add fried shrimp to bowl with reserved chili sauce mixture and toss with cilantro and basil to coat. Serve immediately with extra chili sauce.