Like a lot of Chinese kids growing up in America, I hated eating Chinese food all the time. All I wanted to do was stuff my face with hamburgers, cheese pizzas, chicken nuggets, and all the other American goodies I saw on TV. It wasn’t until I was a little older, and had spent a month traveling around China that I developed a real appreciation for the cuisine of my people.
But, even at the height of my Chinese food rebellion, the one thing I always loved (and still love), was the salt and pepper jumbo shrimp dish my parents typically ordered for me when we dined out. Crunchy, savory, salty, and a little spicy, they were so delicious even my Happy Meal-addicted taste buds tingled with joy. These chili-garlic panko fried shrimp are not an exact replica of my favorite childhood dish, but are a wonderful substitute. Super crunchy, garlicky, and tongue-tingling from Dan’s home grown peppers, they made a very satisfying dinner. Definitely making these again, and soon!
Chili-Garlic Panko Fried Shrimp
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined (but leave on the tail!)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- Vegetable or peanut oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cayenne peppers, diced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- Line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels
- Combine flour, salt and ground pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Toss to mix.
- Pour milk and bread crumbs into two separate bowls (for the bread crumbs, wide and shallow is best).
- Carefully slice the tips off the end of each shrimp tail, and gently run the flat edge of your knife down the length of the tail to squeeze out any excess liquid.
** You can skip this step, but if you leave water in the tails, it may cause your oil to splash/pop as the shrimp fries.
- Pick a shrimp up by it’s tail, and dip it into the dish of milk (leaving the tail dry).
- Next, roll the shrimp around in the flour mixture, making sure you get an even coat.
- Dip the floured shrimp back into the milk, then roll it around in the panko bread crumbs, making sure to get an even coat.
- Dip the bread crumbed shrimp into the milk, flour, milk, and bread crumbs one more time, then place it gently onto the baking sheet.
** You can skip this step if you like, but doing two coats of flour/bread crumbs ensures that you get an extra crispy fried coating that doesn’t fall off in the oil.
- Repeat steps 4 through 7 with each shrimp.
- Pour about 1 inch of oil into a thick-bottomed pot/skillet, and set on medium heat.
- When small bubbles start forming on the surface of the oil, carefully ease a few breaded shrimp into the oil. Cook for about a minute, until batter is crispy and golden, and the shrimp tails are reddish-pink. Gently remove shrimp from the oil, and place them back on the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all shrimp are fried.
- Heat another pan/skillet on medium heat, add a few spoons of the frying oil, and toss in your garlic, peppers, and onion. Cook until garlic is fragrant and onion is translucent.
- Add fried shrimp to the pan, and toss quickly to coat with the garlic/pepper/onion mixture. Cook for about 1 minute, then remove from heat.
** Shrimp cook very quickly, so you have to be careful not to overcook them. Rubbery shrimp = yuck.
- Enjoy immediately, with a big bowl of fluffy white rice.