Crunchy shrimp (thanks for the help, cornstarch!) gets its zesty, floral heat from Sichuan peppercorns. It's hard to believe that a main course this complex comes together so quickly.
Using kitchen shears, cut along the backs of shrimp through shells and just deep enough to expose veins; remove veins. Pat shrimp dry. Whisk cornstarch, black pepper, and ¾ tsp. salt in a large bowl; add shrimp and toss to coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry shrimp until golden, crisp, and cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels and let drain, then toss in a medium bowl with Sichuan peppercorns and remaining ¾ tsp. salt. Add chile and cilantro to bowl and toss to combine.
Nutrition Per Serving
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We followed the recipe exactly, except used green onion rather than cilantro. The spice blend was absolute fire, but the texture of the shrimp shells seemed...wrong? I love fried shrimp heads and imagined this to be similar, but the shells were a bit tough which made for an unpleasant eating experience. I'm not sure if it was the type of shrimp we used (frozen XL shell-on shrimp from a regular old grocery store), or if we didn't fry them long enough, or maybe this is just how the recipe is supposed to be? I might try it again with higher quality head-on shrimp from the fish market, maybe peel the shell but leave the head and tail intact for the crunch factor. Swapping in chicken for the shrimp would also be fab.
Delicious and easy recipe. I fried my jalapeño pepper before tossing it in with the shrimp.