Wild Alaska spot and sidestriped shrimp have delicate shells and swimmerets (legs) which make them ideal for this classic Chinese preparation. The shrimp are tossed with a light dusting of cornstarch, salt, and black pepper which creates a crispy coating when it hits the hot oil.
- 1 pound spot or sidestriped shrimp, roe reserved for another use
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed, for frying
- 2 tablespoons chili crisp (optional, see Pro Tips) or 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- Lime wedges for serving
PREP THE SHRIMP
Rinse the shrimp and lightly pat dry with paper towels, leaving some moisture attached. Use a pair of scissors to cut through the shell along the outer edge of the shrimp, following the curve until you reach the tail but don’t remove the shells.
Place the shrimp in a sealable silicone or paper bag along with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Seal the bag and shake to evenly coat the shrimp. Line a baking sheet with paper towels or a brown paper bag.
FRY SHRIMP AND SERVE
Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of oil and heat to 400°F on a deep-frying thermometer over high heat, or until a pinch of cornstarch sizzles when it hits the hot oil. Working in batches if necessary, add the shrimp to the hot oil and fry until lightly golden and crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and toss with the chili crisp, if using. Sprinkle with the scallion and cilantro leaves and serve at once with lime wedges.
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Pair it Up
Tame the heat of these spicy fried shrimp with a crisp, low-alcohol lager.
Spice it Up
Chili crisp is a garlicky chili condiment available at Asian markets or specialty stores other well-stocked markets and is definitely worth seeking out. Sriracha can be substituted but is significantly spicier.
Know Your Cook
Culinary Director Grace Parisi is a cook, writer and cookbook author. Formerly the Senior Test Kitchen Editor at Food & Wine Magazine and Executive Food Director at TimeInc Books, her work has appeared in Cooking Light, Health, O Magazine, Epicurious, Fitness, Today, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart, and many more. She’s the author of more than 6 books, among them The Portlandia Cookbook and Get Saucy, which was nominated for a James Beard award for Best Single Subject Cookbook.
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