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.
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For the shrimp marinade:
- 1 small egg white, beaten
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the shrimp:
- 1 pound shrimp, shelled and de-veined
- 1 cup cornstarch
- Vegetable oil, for cooking
- 1 cup diced green pepper
- 1 cup diced pineapple
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup store-bought sweet chili sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- Make the marinade:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, cornstarch, vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar and salt until well combined.
- Add the shrimp to marinade and toss to combine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. While the shrimp are marinating, prepare the sauce.
- Make the sauce:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, chicken broth, sugar, sweet chili sauce, garlic and ginger. Set the sauce aside.
- Add 1 cup cornstarch to a large bowl. Shake off any excess marinade from the shrimp and add them to the bowl with the cornstarch, tossing to combine. Transfer the shrimp to a sieve and shake off any excess cornstarch.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to the pan to generously coat the bottom. Line a plate with paper towels.
- Once the oil is hot, add a portion of the shrimp in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp once and continue cooking until pink, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the shrimp to the paper towel-lined plate then repeat the cooking process with the remaining shrimp, adding more oil as needed. Once you’ve cooked all of the shrimp, add the diced bell peppers and pineapple to the pan and cook, stirring for 1 minute then remove the peppers and pineapple to the plate with the shrimp and wipe out the pan.
- Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat then add the prepared sauce and bring it to a boil. Boil the sauce for 1 minute then return the shrimp, peppers and pineapple to the pan and cook an additional 1 minute, tossing to coat. Serve.
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Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times.