Salt and pepper shrimp appears on many Chinese restaurant menus –perhaps too many– and Mr. Alpenglow is tempted to order it every time, from the gilded banquet halls of San Gabriel Valley to the bullet-proofed Imperial Palace #3 in West Philadelphia. This homemade version is pitch perfect: Hot, crispy, salty and spicy.
SALT & PEPPER SHRIMP
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 or 3 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
4 scallion stalks, sliced
1 1/2 lbs large wild shrimp
(peeled, deveined, tails left on)
vegetable or peanut oil
In a large bowl, mix the cornstarch, salt, pepper, sugar, and five-spice. In a separate bowl, mix the garlic, chiles, and scallions. Dry the shrimp with a paper towel. Add them to the cornstarch mixture and toss to coat evenly. In a large wok or non-stick skillet heat about 3 tablespoons of oil on high heat until smoking. Add the shrimp. Fry each side about 2 minutes until crisp and slightly browned. Transfer the shrimp to a sheet. Add another tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic mixture and stir until the garlic is golden and the scallions are softened. Then return the shrimp to the pan and stir to combine (you may need a minute or two to cook all the shrimp through). Serve immediately.