Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Nathan and I only post what we consider ‘blog-worthy’ and these shrimp are definitely that…BUT, I will admit that they take a little getting used to. This is because the shrimp are fried heads on and shells on and you’re meant to eat the shells. Some people even eat the heads for a little added crispiness (not me though…I can’t get past the eyeballs!) In the U.S., most shrimp are eaten with the shells removed, either in-store or at home. In many Asian countries, however, removing the shrimp shell is thought to remove the flavor and crunch that shrimp should inherently have. After eating these shrimp, I’m inclined to side with the latter school of thought. The shrimp were crisp, multi-textured and bursting with the flavors brought by lots of pepper, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, and cayenne. If you’ve always felt the de-shelled shrimp seem naked you should give this recipe a try! Don’t forget to serve with a bowl of steamed rice and a little soy sauce for dipping.

Katryn’s Wine Pairing: Lagosta Vinho Verde DOC
Rating: 9.25 out of 10.0

This delicious wine came to us courtesy of my sister and her husband’s honeymoon to Portugal. This wine is summer in a bottle…light, fruity, and slightly effervescent. It was the perfect complement to the crispy, flavorful, shrimp and was a light balance without being overpowered by the shrimp. I would buy another bottle of this in a second…it would be amazing with any summer meal.

Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Sea Quench Ale Session Sour
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.0

This is a very… distinctive beer, and probably not everyone’s cup of tea. It is a mix of gose, kolsch, and weisse beer. It is quite sour from the added lime flavors and gose while also being quite peppery. As much as I wouldn’t consider this to be a session beer it was actually quite awesome with the shrimp. All of the sharp flavors and light body really helped to cut through the crispy, fried flavors and helped wash the whole thing down.

Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Serves 4 to 6
From this recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds shell-on shrimp (31 to 40 per pound)
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
Kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable oil
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 scallions, sliced thin on bias
1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (1 1/2 cups)

Directions:

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Toss shrimp, rice wine, and 1 teaspoon salt together in large bowl and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Grind black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns in spice grinder or mortar and pestle until coarsely ground. Transfer peppercorns to small bowl and stir in sugar and cayenne.
3. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until oil registers 385 degrees. While oil is heating, drain shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer shrimp to bowl, add 3 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon peppercorn mixture, and toss until well combined.
4. Carefully add one-third of shrimp to oil and fry, stirring occasionally to keep shrimp from sticking together, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to paper towel-lined plate. Once paper towels absorb any excess oil, transfer shrimp to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Return oil to 385 degrees and repeat in 2 more batches, tossing each batch thoroughly with coating mixture before frying.
5. Toss jalapeno rings and remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch in medium bowl. Shaking off excess cornstarch, carefully add jalapeño rings to oil and fry until crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Using wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer jalapeño rings to paper towel-lined plate. After frying, reserve 2 tablespoons frying oil.
6. Heat reserved oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, ginger, and remaining peppercorn mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 45 seconds. Add shrimp, scallions, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Line platter with lettuce. Transfer shrimp to platter, sprinkle with jalapeño rings, and serve immediately.

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