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Deep-fried and generously seasoned, salt and pepper shrimp is Chinese comfort food at its best. Hong Kong Street Cart chef and owner Stephen Li shared with us his recipe for this popular Chinese seafood dish. “It’s very common, and it’s done in a lot of restaurants, but we’re able to tweak it a bit and change it up,” he says. “We use fried taro for the garnish, and the seasoning is not as overwhelming as other places. We also use ginger powder.”
Li, who was born in Brooklyn, learned how to cook by working at his family’s Hong Kong-style restaurants. He started Hong Kong Street Cart last year and works pop-up events like Madison Square Eats.
“What we make depends on what event we’re doing, but this recipe works out pretty well for Madison Square Eats,” Li says. “It’s fried, so it goes really well with the alcohol there.”
Here is the recipe:
Salt and Pepper Shrimp
12(large 16 to 20 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons fried garlic bits
1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
3 pieces green scallion (white part only, julienned)
5 pieces dried red chile peppers, chopped
1 1/2 quart soybean oil or corn oil for frying shrimp
1 pinch salt and pepper seasoning (see salt and pepper recipe)
Fried taro (cut into strips) optional for garnish
Cilantro for garnish
For Shrimp Batter
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups potato starch for dredging
1/2 tablespoon soybean oil or corn oil
Salt and Pepper Seasoning Recipe
This makes about 2 pints. It’s scaled down from the original restaurant recipe.
You can save the seasoning for all type of dishes, such as crispy paperskin chicken.
3 1/3 cups salt
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice powder
1 teaspoon Szechuan powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
Toast the salt in a frying pan until hot, for about 15 minutes. Toss constantly. Set aside to cool, then add 5 spice powder, Szechuan powder, and ginger powder, and mix well.
Shrimp Batter Procedure:
Rinse shrimp and pat dry.
Marinate the shrimp with a pinch of salt and work through the shrimp with your hands until it’s a little pasty.
Add cornstarch. Mix well.
Add oil, and mix well.
Put the potato starch in mixing bowl and dredge the shrimp in potato starch.
Squeeze the shrimp with palm of hand so the starch sticks to the shrimp.
Heat soybean oil in wok or deep pan.
Fry shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes until golden and transfer to paper towel to drain.
In a separate frying pan, on high heat, place the fried shrimp and add fried garlic bits, toasted sesame seeds, dried red chile peppers, and scallions, and toss.
Sprinkle with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper seasoning while tossing.
Garnish plate with cilantro and fried taro strips and place the shrimp on top.