Crackjerack Shrimp and I go way back. Back to the awkward days of high school, when braces and retainers ruled the campus quad and lacrosse practices seeped into dinnertime hours. But when the final whistle did blow, I’d race home, eager and ready to devour whatever my mom had been cooking up in our kitchen.
There was the crunchy bite of Wienerschnitzel, the comforting taste of Fried Spaghetti, the sweet and tangy flavor of Baby Back Ribs. And on the extra special nights, the aromatic zing of fresh garlic and ginger wafting from Crackerjack Shrimp. Velvety. Sweet. A hit of spice. The shrimp were magic in a mouthful. And as quickly as my mom could stir-fry them up, my siblings and I could inhale them even faster.
The classic Chinese technique of velveting—marinating the shrimp in egg whites, cornstarch and Sherry—ensures that the seafood remains moist during the double pan-frying process. A final toss in a blend of chili sauce, garlic, ginger and sugar will officially (and permanently) kick your carry-out menus to the curb.
Sweet and Sour Crackerjack Shrimp
Yield: 2-4 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour (includes marinating time)
Cook Time: 5 min
For the shrimp marinade:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small egg white, beaten
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 Tablespoon Shaoshing wine or Sherry
For the shrimp:
1 pound shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup peanut oil
For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup store-bought sweet chili sauce
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the shrimp marinade. Set aside.
Rinse the cleaned shrimp under cold water then lay out on paper towels and pat until completely dry.
Add shrimp to marinade and cover the bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. While shrimp are marinating, prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Set the prepared sauce aside.
Place the 1 cup of cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the marinated shrimp to the cornstarch, tossing to evenly coat. Transfer the coated shrimp to a colander and shake off any excess cornstarch.
Place a large, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes until it is very hot.
Add the peanut oil it should slide very easily across the pan but not smoke).
Add half of prepared shrimp to the pan, spread out so they aren't touching each other. Allow them to cook 2 minutes, then flip them once and cook on the second side for 1 additional minute, or just until they turn pink and are fully cooked throughout.
Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat the cooking process with the second half of the shrimp, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
Drain the excess oil from the pan and then allow the pan to cool before returning it to the stove (this is very important).
Return the pan to the stove, placing it over medium heat. Add the prepared sauce and bring it to a boil.
Add the cooked shrimp to the sauce and toss to evenly coat.
Spoon Crackerjack Shrimp into dishes and serve.
Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times.
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