In our house, shrimp have always been a traditional favorite for special occasions, but with improved freezing methods, they have become more accessible for us to enjoy any time. And there are so many ways to enjoy shrimp! Garlic, chili, curry or sweet Asian style – we love them all!
There is one thing that sets a shrimp dish apart from being mediocre to top rate – the coating. Today I will share my recipe for achieving lovely glossy-coated shrimp which will work with whatever way you want to serve them. I’ve chosen simple garlic shrimp so you can practice getting the method down-pat.
Shrimp that has been frozen on the boat and packaged in a bag is the best way to preserve the shrimp’s quality and stabilize the flavor. Buying shrimp that has been thawed means you run the risk of not knowing how long it has been sitting in the shop, and its flavor diminishes with each day.
The list of ingredients for this dish is as follows:
- 300 g frozen packaged shrimp with tails
- Keeping the tail of the shrimp is more visually appealing.
- 1 clove garlic
- 20 g scallions/green onions
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cooking wine
- ½ an egg white
- 3 teaspoons starch (Arrowroot or Tapioca flour)
- 1 fresh red pepper
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil
- Starch water: 10 g starch and 80 ml water
- spinach leaves for decoration
Step 1: Prepare the Shrimp
Take a small sharp knife and cut right along the back of the shrimp to a depth equal to about 1/2 the depth of the knife edge. This will cause the shrimp to fan out and curl into a nice rounded shape when it is cooked. Some shrimp will have had the intestine removed and some won’t, so if it is still present, you need to remove it.
Pat the surface of the shrimp dry with kitchen paper. The dry shrimp will take up flavor better.
Season the shrimp with the salt and white pepper.
Add a small amount (about 5 ml) of wine to take away the shrimp smell. You do not need to use rice wine; you can use your favorite wine or any you have on hand. I have used sweet sherry in this recipe which has a higher concentration of alcohol and sugar.
Shrimp is very delicate, so it is best to mix in the seasonings with your hands rather than a spoon or other utensil. However, if you really do not want to use your hands, a metal spoon used gently will suffice, but please do not use chopsticks.
Next, pour in half an egg white.
To estimate the right amount of starch, add a small amount and if that is not enough, add in a bit more. You will be estimating here as ‘half an egg white’ is not an exact measure and the two will need to be adjusted to get the consistency right.
Mix again with your hands, and add more starch if necessary.
The aim here is to form a uniform coating of evenly mixed starch and egg white – not too much of either – over the surface of the shrimp.
You will need to pay attention to this so that you can add in either more egg white or more starch to get the right balance. A thin layer is better than thick, so the shrimp is not covered in a thick starchy paste.
Cover the coated shrimp and put them in the refrigerator for about half an hour. Use this time to prepare the other ingredients.
Slice the red pepper, and remove the seeds. Garlic is the main flavor in this recipe, so don’t add too much chili or it will overpower the taste of the shrimp.
Chop the garlic and green onion. Wash and pat dry some fresh spinach leaves, and scatter them onto your serving dish.
Step 2: Pre Cook the Shrimp
Take a medium pot, fill it with about 1.5 liters of water, and bring it to the boil. Turn down to a simmer.
Gently put the coated shrimp into the water. The water will immediately become cloudy, and some of the egg white will detach and float in the water. As soon as the shrimp surface is translucent and white, quickly fish them out with a slotted spoon. The cooking process is very quick, probably less than a minute.
The cooked shrimp should look like those in the picture below – nice and pink with a clear surface. Simmering shrimp in water is much simpler compared with deep frying. Though the effect produced from frying is better, using a lot of oil and dealing with the dangers of hot oil is troublesome for the family kitchen. It is much easier and safer to cook the shrimp in water.
Step 3: Flavor the Shrimp
Take a flat non-stick pan and preheat it for one minute. Pour in the peanut oil, together with the red pepper, garlic, and onion.
Quickly stir fry for about 1-2 minutes until the garlic is cooked – you need to carefully control the heat so as not to burn the garlic, otherwise it will become bitter. Don’t let the garlic brown.
Pour in the starch water. Because the pot is very hot, the starch water would normally cook quickly and go lumpy. The proportion I have here makes a thinner consistency which will extend the heating time, so it doesn’t thicken too quickly before the other ingredients are cooked to the desired stage.
If the starch water is too thick and goes lumpy, it is difficult to correct and will ruin the dish. The thickening quality of different starches differs due to their different molecular structures. Tapioca starch thickens to a nice transparency which gives an excellent result for this dish.
Put the shrimp into the pan on top of the starch water and quickly stir fry to coat the shrimp surface in a thin layer of thick paste, while absorbing the flavors of the chili, garlic, and onion.
Finally, turn off the stove and season the shrimp with salt.
Arrange the cooked shrimp on the spinach leaves on the serving plate and garnish with some chopped green onions.
This method of cooking shrimp gives it a crystal-clear appearance and a smooth, elastic texture to the palate.
Not only does this dish look like you’ve spent ages in the kitchen getting that professional glossy look to the shrimp, but it is so tender and delicious, you will want to double or triple this recipe!
Enjoy it at your next dinner party or eat it alfresco with friends and family.