Salty, with crunch and slight spicy, these shrimp are so delicious and easy to eat. The are a great appetizer or part of a main meal.
By The Woks of Life
Before we start, I want to clarify something about the “pepper” in “Salt and Pepper Shrimp.” When I search for “salt and pepper (??)” on Chinese cooking sites, the pepper element used most in China seems to be Sichuan peppercorns, but for recipes like Salt and Pepper Pork Chops that you order from a Cantonese restaurant, the pepper used is usually white pepper. I’ve come to the conclusion that anything works: white pepper, black pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, or a combination. Whatever strikes your fancy, or whatever you happen to have in your spice cabinet.
The salt and pepper mixture is toasted to give it more flavor and fragrance, and it’s very easy to make. The ratio is usually 2:1 pepper to salt. I strongly suggest you use sea salt for this recipe; it has better flavor.
- 2 parts whole peppercorns
- 1 part sea salt
- 1 pound large shrimp, shells on and deveined (with or without heads)
- 3 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
- ⅓ cup oil for shallow frying
- salt and pepper mixture, to taste
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 long hot green or red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 scallion, chopped
- In a small pot over medium low heat, dry roast the whole peppercorns of your choice for 15 minutes, until very fragrant. Take care not to burn them, adjusting the heat as needed. Cool completely and use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the peppercorns down to a powder.
- In the same pot over medium heat, dry roast the salt until it turns slightly yellow in color. Let it cool and combine it with the ground pepper. You now have your own authentic salt and pepper powder, which you can use in whatever “salt and pepper” dish you like. The rest of the recipe is really easy.
- Rinse the shrimp and pat them thoroughly dry with a paper towel. Dredge them in potato starch or cornstarch––whatever you’re using.
- Heat the oil in a small cast iron skillet to 375 degrees. Quickly lay the shrimp in the oil with about an inch of space in between each shrimp, and fry the shrimp in batches, cooking each side for 30 seconds. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate, and sprinkle with salt and pepper powder to taste.
- In the wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Fry the garlic until just golden brown (careful not to burn it!), and set aside to drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- Remove any excess oil from the wok, so there's only a tablespoon or so left (you don’t want to use too much oil at this stage, as this is a “dry” dish). Add the peppers to the wok. Turn off the heat, and add the garlic back to the wok, stir-frying everything together for a minute. Add the shrimp to the wok, and gently toss everything for 10 seconds, sprinkling over a bit more of your salt and pepper mixture. Serve!