Crunchy Salt and Pepper Shrimp (Jiaoyan Suxia)
Fried until perfectly crisp with a naturally sweet flavor, these guys are kind of like the potato chips of the sea.
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
8 ounces medium shrimp (31-40 count, or smaller if you like), fresh or frozen and defrosted with shells and tails on and preferably their heads
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2-3 cups frying oil, preferably rice bran oil (used oil is all right if it smells fresh)
½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion, trimmed and finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1. First prep the shrimp. Shrimp with or without their heads should be allowed to keep their shells, tails, and feet. If you are leaving the head and shell on, use kitchen shears to cut down the back of the shrimp through the shell and down as far as the sandy vein. Trim off the long antennae and the pointy end of its nose. If you are going to deep fry the shrimp, lop off the eyes, too, to prevent them from exploding. To remove the shell, insert a finger or two into the body between the rows of legs and work the shell off, which will also get rid of the legs. You can leave the tail on or remove it, depending upon the recipe. Remove the vein and rinse out the back, and then pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel
2. Place the shrimp in a colander and rinse them under cool running water, Have a medium work bowl ready as you use a paper towel to dry them off, pressing down slightly to squeeze out any extra water. Place the dried off shrimp in the bowl. Toss them with the rice wine and the cornstarch. Let them marinate while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Have everything prepared before you start frying the shrimp, as it proceeds very quickly.
3. Have a wok ready, as well as wooden chopsticks as spider or slotted spoon , a serving dish lined with parchment paper, and a bowl for the used oil. Pour in the oil into the wok and place it on high heat. When a chopstick inserted into the hot oil is immediately covered with bubbles , add about half of the shrimp, sliding them individually by their tails into the oil so that you don't get splashed. Lower the heat to medium and fry the shrimp quickly until they are golden brown all over. Remove them with a slotted spoon and chopsticks to the serving dish. Repeat with the other half of the shrimp, adjusting the heat as necessary
4. When the shrimp are fried and crispy, pour out all of the oil into the waiting bowl, leaving only a film of oil inside the wok. Heat the wok over high, add the salt, pepper, green onion, and garlic and quickly toss these together for a few seconds to take the raw edge off the aromatics. Add all of the shrimp, toss them quickly just to coat them with the seasoning, and then serve immediately. The whole shrimp can be eaten; the legs in particular are nice and brittle.