HONEY WALNUT SHRIMP
I saved this unabashedley Chinese-American dish for the final post in my week of Chinese take-out meals at home because, well . . . it’s pretty damn sweet, like sweet enough to be a dessert. But don’t fear, the savory addition of prawns, mayonnaise and a nice sprinkling of salt make it worthy of your dinner plate.
It only dawned on me when I was making it that this particular dish may not be everyone’s favorite — certainly not in the same way chow mein tends to be. The inclusion of sweetened condensed milk and mayo might sound a bit off-putting, but if you’ve ever enjoyed fried calamari or shrimp dipped in a pleasantly sweet, thick sauce, then you’ll understand the appeal. When the crispy prawns and crunchy walnuts are tossed in the sweet, creamy sauce it creates a succulent combination of textures and flavors — a perfect compliment to salty pot stickers and broccoli beef.
HONEY WALNUT SHRIMP
Adapted from Bee Yinn Low’s, Rasa Malaysia
Sure, there is a bit of frying involved in this recipe and making the walnut glaze can be a bit scary if you’ve never made caramel before, but in the end, this is a fairly simple dish to prepare and one that comes together quite quickly once all your prep work is out of the way. Make sure the shrimp are well-coated in corn starch before frying. If your oil is between 350°-375° when you throw the shrimp in they should end up cooking quickly, forming a crispy golden crust while remaining juicy throughout. I recommend making this dish with Kewpie mayonnaise if you have it for its savory flavor and rich texture. If you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry, Best Food’s or Hellman’s will produce just as delicious results. Toss the hot shrimp in the room temperature sauce and serve immediately — they are best within a few minutes of cooking.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 pound 31/40 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 egg white, very lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (preferably Kewpie brand)
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 tablespoon condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- Canola, grapeseed, peanut or vegetable oil for frying
- Leaf lettuce for garnish
- Make the candied walnuts: Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan set over medium-high heat. Stir frequently, until sugar is dissolved and mixture turns to a golden brown and thickens. Add the walnuts and a pinch of kosher salt and stir until coated in a thin caramel glaze, about 1 to 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the walnut halves to a parchment lined baking sheet until cool enough to handle.
- Prepare the Shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place them in a medium bowl along with the egg white. Mix gently until the shrimp are well coated.
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk to combine the mayonnaise, honey and condensed milk, lemon juice and another pinch of kosher salt until thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.
- Fry the Shrimp: Pour oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot to a depth of at least 1 1/2 inches and heat over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer reaches a temperature of 350°. Place the corn starch in a shallow bowl (a pie plate works well for this) and add in the shrimp, gently tossing until each one is thoroughly coated. Shake off any excess corn starch and fry the shrimp (in batches if necessary) until crispy and just golden, about 2-3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the shrimp to a paper towel lined plate and allow excess oil to be absorbed.
- In a large bowl, combine the shrimp with the mayo/condensed milk mixture and toss gently until they are well-coated. Transfer the shrimp to a lettuce lined serving bowl or plate and garnish with the candied walnuts. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 when served along with other dishes