Fried Shrimp

If I had to choose only one food to eat every day for the rest of my life, I’d choose shrimp. I absolutely love them!

We fry almost everything in the south and shrimp are no exception. The problem is that most people who fry shrimp either don’t season them or they overcook them. I can’t tell you how many restaurants I have gone to and eaten shrimp only to be thoroughly disappointed.

So many people think that Tempura batter is the way to go or they use Panko bread crumbs. Ugh. Each of those batters has a purpose, but not for my shrimp!

Go down to your local market and get a pound of fresh shrimp with the shells and heads still attached. Fill your sink or a container with cold water and place the shrimp inside.

Peeling shrimp is an icky job, but the end result is worth it. Pick up a shrimp and locate where the head ends and twist it off. Peel off the shell. Most of the time if you grab and pull the shell up near where the head was, you can squeeze the shrimp body and remove the shell in one go. It takes practice, but you can do it! Place the heads and shells in a ziploc bag and freeze. Return all shrimp to cold water. You don’t want them to get warm or hot.

Now we are going to perform a little surgery. While holding a shrimp with it’s back facing up, take a sharp knife and make an incision from head to butt, but don’t go very deep. You are butterflying the shrimp, not slicing it in half!

There is a black vein that you need to pull out and discard. This is the “vein” or “digestive tract” and is quite unpleasant to eat. Make sure you get all of it.

Once you have finished cleaning all of your shrimp, start heating your oil. I like to use canola oil, but some like peanut oil. Some people have fancy gadgets to do all frying in. Me, I have a pot. Fill your cooking vessel with enough oil to fry your shrimp, but not enough to boil over. Let’s say you have a smaller pot. Fill it about half way with oil. It doesn’t take much. Just enough where they can float.

Put the pot on medium high heat. You don’t want it boiling hot.

Drain the shrimp and pat gently dry with paper towels.

Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Now add about a tablespoon of your house seasoning. Didn’t make any? Ah, no worries. You can add seasonings directly from the jar. Add around 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly.

In another bowl add plain all purpose flour. I’d say a cup or two should do the trick. Add the same seasonings to the flour that you put in the egg, but double them. You can omit the cayenne pepper from this step if you don’t want your shrimp to be super spicy.

Use a fork to incorporate all the seasonings and flour.

Drop a handful of shrimp into the egg and then remove and drop in the flour. If you want, you can use a ziploc for the flour and you can shake the shrimp. Whatever you do, make sure you completely cover the shrimp in the egg and in the flour.

Drop the battered shrimp into your hot oil. Don’t put too many and don’t overcrowd. Give them some room!

Let them fry 1-2 minutes and flip, fry for another 2 minutes. You want them to be floating and golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and lightly salt. Always, always salt fried food while it’s hot! But don’t oversalt or they will be inedible!

Taste one. It should be crunchy on the outside, fully pink and firm on the inside.

Now cook the rest of your shrimp and enjoy!

From my table to yours,

~Dado

Email questions or comments to tastesofthebayou@gmail.com

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