Crispy Honey Walnut Shrimp Recipe
Crispy honeyed shrimp with walnuts is a classic in Americanized Chinese cuisine. I only make this dish when we have guests at home because I find it too rich for regular consumption. It's definitely one of my favorites though!
Making honeyed shrimp is very similar to making dessert. The shrimp are coated with corn starch, then deep-fried until golden and crunchy. Then they're tossed in a sauce made of sweetened condensed milk, honey and mayonnaise. Walnuts are added for a little texture. The walnuts are sweetened in a homemade caramel which alos gives the dish a dessert-like quality. It may sound strange, but the honey and caramel really help bring out the natural sweetness of the dish.
Yields: 6 servings1 teaspoon fresh ginger, freshly grated
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1-¼ pounds raw large shrimp, thawed
1/3 cup corn starch (or tapioca starch)
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
3 cups peanut oil (or regular vegetable oil), for deep frying, as needed
¼ cup homemade mayonnaise
½ cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup whole walnuts, halved
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
4 sprigs cilantro
Prepping the shrimp:
Remove and discard the head of the shrimp if it's still attached. Carefully shell and de-vein the black part of the shrimp using a sharp hook-like paring knife. Make sure to remove the tip of the tail (the shell that covers the tail) as well; this part is very delicate. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and pat dry using a paper towel. There should be as little water as possible. Repeat the same procedure for each shrimp. These steps are tedious but essential for good results.
On a large platter, combine the shrimp, freshly grated ginger and garlic. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Pat dry one more time with paper towels.
For the candied walnuts:
To make the syrup, dissolve the granulated sugar with ¼ cup water in a small saucepan.
How to toast the walnuts (at very low temperature): Spread the nuts onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper (or a silicone mat). Place the tray in a preheated oven at 170°F. Toast the walnuts for about 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool completely. Rub the nuts between your hands; the skin should come off easily. You could roast the nuts at a higher temperature (325°F) for a shorter cooking time but you'll might risk breaking healthy fats and lose all the nutrients of the nuts.
Bring the syrup to a full boil, then lower the heat to medium-low until the caramel becomes golden brown (about 3 minutes). As soon as the caramel is the right golden brown color, add 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Stir well. Add the toasted walnuts. Toss well until all the nuts are coated with the caramel.
Transfer the nuts back to the baking pan lined with parchment paper, leaving as much caramel as possible in the saucepan. Separate them (I used chopsticks) and allow to cool completely.
Layer a cooling rack, previously lined with paper towels if you like, on top of a baking sheet (for easy clean-up of the drained oil).
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, condensed milk, honey and rice vinegar. Stir well. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven (or any regular deep-fryer), heat the oil for about 2 minutes over high heat. There should be at least a 2-inch-high level of oil. Wait until the oil is slightly bubbly (not too hot).
Season the shrimp with salt and white pepper. Sprinkle some corn starch using a fine mesh strainer and coat both sides of each shrimp. Shake off the excess corn starch.
The key to good, crispy, yet moist shrimp is to get little bubbles when the shrimp is in contact with the oil. Don't overheat the oil (see tips), otherwise the shrimp will get too golden and chewy and the inside will still be raw. Just stick to the slightly jumping bubbles. Place the shrimp one piece at a time, making sure the shrimp fritters don't touch each other. Fry in batches. Lower the heat to medium. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes per batch until golden. Use a splatter screen to prevent the oil from jumping everywhere . Flip each piece using a spider skimmer and cook for about a minute until golden on both sides.
Remove each shrimp, draining as much oil as possible and transfer them on the cooling rack. Season with salt and immediately transfer to the bowl of sweetened mayonnaise. Continue with the remaining shrimp.
Place the honeyed shrimp onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with the candied walnuts.
Garnish with cilantro.
Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.
Dredging each shrimp in corn starch keeps the moisture in and makes a golden outer crust. Once you add the corn starch, deep-fry the shrimp immediately. If you wait too long, the moisture from the shrimp will make the coating glue-ey and soggy.
For optimum results when heating the frying oil, a thermometer should register 350°F to 375°F. Heat the oil over medium to high heat.
I use Longevity brand sweetened condensed milk, the one with the picture of a white-bearded old man. You can easily find it in Asian stores.
I used our family friend Mrs. Winsor's honey. She makes her own honey on her property in Virginia.
Published By: on July 15, 2010.
When making caramel, you have to be very careful. If you wait too long, the caramel will taste bitter or even worse, it will burn. So watch your caramel carefully as it changes color very fast.