Szechuan shrimp is a dish that bursts with flavor the moment it hits your mouth! Light crisp batter, juicy jumbo shrimp, and a very distinct mouth-numbing tingle… This Szechuan shrimp recipe is anything but boring. Buckle up, because we’re going on an exciting flavor journey with this entree!
What is Szechuan Shrimp?
Now, I have to warn you now, this classic Chinese dish is addictive!
Szechuan peppercorns have a completely unique flavor than any other spice. It’s not spicy, but floral and gives you a slight tingling and mouth-numbing experience. There really is no substitute for it.
Szechuan meals are made to really pack a punch with bold and tasty flavors from the Szechuan peppercorns, garlic, and chilis. It’s like eating your favorite chips, you can’t just have one… It’s practically impossible.
Typically, Szechuan entrees are made insanely spicy, but I’ve toned down the heat in this recipe. Of course, if you're a heat-loving daredevil, you can crank up the spice by simply adding more cayenne.
Also, get ready because the crunch on these is INSANE. After you’ve seared your shrimp in the pan, resist the urge to pop it in your mouth right away. Instead, run your fork against the shrimp and you’ll hear a clear crackling sound from the beautifully crisp crust. It’s magic!
Then, once you get over the amazing texture, you’ll have an explosion of flavor coating your mouth from the Szechuan peppercorns, garlic, and chili. And finally, just when you think the flavor roller coaster is over, you’ll taste that distinct Szechuan peppercorn and feel it begin to tingle your mouth.
Pro Tips for Szechuan Shrimp Recipe
- Keep the Shell On: Like cooking meat with the bone on, leaving the shrimp shell on packs in SO much more flavor than cooking with it off. Plus it adds an additional layer of crunch (yes, you can eat the shell!)
- Toast the Szechuan Peppercorns: Toasting the peppercorns prior to grinding them up releases its natural oils, making it more fragrant and flavorful. This is a quick and easy way to get even more flavor from your spices.
- Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: I know you’ve probably heard this a million +1 times... But it’s SO important if you want that crispy crust! If your pan is overcrowded, your food will create steam instead of a sear. That means you’ll have a soggy breading rather than a crispy one. A good rule of thumb is that you should always be able to see the bottom of the pan.
- Substitutes for Potato Starch: I’ve tested various breadings and potato starch definitely creates the most addictive crunch. You can typically find potato starch at the Asian market. However, if you need a quick alternative, cornstarch would be the closest contender.
If you can’t tell by now, it’s become one of my favorite easy shrimp recipes for dinner! Try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
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Crispy Szechuan Shrimp Recipe
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Shrimp
- 1 pound large or jumbo shell-on & deveined shrimp* pat dry
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine*
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 egg white
- 1 ½ cup potato starch*
Aromatics & For Serving
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 red chilies finely sliced
- 2 stalks green onions sliced
- lime wedges
Make Szechuan Salt
- Heat a wok or large pan on medium-high heat. Dry toast the Szechuan peppercorns until fragrant.
- Transfer them in mortar & pestle or coffee grinder and grind until they're a fine powder. Mix with salt and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the egg white and whisk until frothy.
- Mix in soy sauce, Chinese Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and fish sauce until well combined, then add in shrimp. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Add potato starch to shrimp with the marinade and mix well. Scrunch mixture onto shrimp to pack on the potato starch and marinade.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in the wok on high heat. Check if the oil is hot enough by sprinkling a little potato starch in the oil. If small bubbles form, it's ready.
- Gently shake off any excess potato starch from the shrimp, then carefully add them to the pan, working in batches if needed to prevent overcrowding. Fry for about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown and crisp.
- Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate, then immediately sprinkle them with some of the Szechuan pepper and salt mixture to taste.
- Drain oil from the wok and carefully wipe it down to remove any excess bits from frying.
- Reheat wok to medium-high. Add in garlic, chilis, and green onions to dry toast until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle them on top of shrimp and serve with lime wedges on the side, if desired. Enjoy!
- Shrimp: This dish is typically made with the shell on because it packs on so much more flavor and creates an extra barrier to help keep the shrimp juicy. However, if you prefer to cook with the shell off, make sure to watch the shrimp closely so they don't overcook.
- Shaoxing Wine: Shaoxing wine is a Chinese cooking wine that can be easily found at local Asian markets or Amazon.
- Potato Starch: Potato starch creates a delicious texture on the shrimp and can be easily found at local Asian markets or Amazon. If you can’t find potato starch, you may also use cornstarch as an alternative.
- Oil for Frying: I recommend using neutral oil with a high smoke point. My favorite is grapeseed oil, however, vegetable, canola, or avocado oil are some other great alternatives.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and provided for informational purposes. Nutrition may vary based on product availability, methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients, etc. For the most accurate nutritional information, use your preferred nutrition calculator, actual ingredients, and quantities used for the recipe. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if more precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
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