This is another quick and easy way to fry our world-class local shrimp without the hassle of a three-stage breading process.
A simple dip in the batter and into the hot oil for a quick fry is all it takes. There is no residual flour or cornmeal left in the oil to burn and give the oil an offensive burned flavor.
The Honey and Hot Chili Sauce recipe is below. Sambal Oelek is a ground fresh chili paste that usually can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store.
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 cups cornstarch
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 cups soda water, chilled
4 tablespoons black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons finely sliced chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 gallon peanut or canola oil
10 cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Place the shrimp neatly on paper towels and refrigerate until ready to use. They must be free of excessive moisture or the batter may not stick.
Mix the flour, cornstarch and turmeric together in a large mixing bowl. Add the soda water gradually until it forms a very light, smooth batter the consistency of tempura batter or very light pancake batter. Place the bowl over ice and allow the batter to rest and chill for at least 10 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Add the seeds, the chives and the parsley. Keep the batter very cold, as it is the hot temperature of the oil and the cold temperature of the batter that makes this fried shrimp so crispy and delicate. A few ice cubes may be added directly to the batter just before using to chill it even further; just don’t get an ice cube in the fryer.
Preheat the oil to 350 degrees. Practice the technique by dipping the cilantro sprigs in the batter and frying them until crispy, about 1 minute. Place on paper towels.
Pick up the shrimp by the tail two at a time and dip into the batter. Tap them on the side of the bowl to shake off excess batter and gently place them in the hot oil. It is good to hold the shrimp by the tail for a second or two after you put them into the oil just to let the batter start to cook. This is to prevent the wet batter from sticking. For this reason, it is best to not use frying baskets. Instead, use a free floating method and a hand skimmer. Move carefully and quickly and fry at least half the shrimp per batch. This way they cook evenly and after two batches you are ready to serve.
When the batter turns a light golden color and crispy, remove the shrimp carefully from the oil and place them on paper towels. Season the shrimp immediately with the salt. You can keep the shrimp warm in a 200-degree oven while frying the remaining shrimp.
While shrimp are frying, drizzle the sauce (see below) on plates. Stack the shrimp on the plates and garnish with the fried cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon finely sliced chives
1 teaspoon minced parsley
Mix together and use for dipping or drizzling around the plated shrimp.
Donald Barickman is a chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston.