About the author: After graduating from MIT, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt spent many years as a chef, recipe developer, writer, and editor in Boston. He now lives in New York with his wife. Got a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Email Kenji here, and he'll do his best to answer your queries in a future post. Become a fan of The Food Lab on Facebook for play-by-plays on future kitchen tests and recipe experiments
- For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic, minced on microplane
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
- sliced scallions or chives
- For the shrimp:
- 12 colossal shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon Japanese hot pepper (togarashi) or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1.5 quarts peanut oil
put sugar in small heavy-bottomed saucepot and add 2 tablespoons water to form a wet sand consistency. Cook over high heat until sugar turns a pale golden color, about 5 minutes total. Immediately add vinegar (mixture will bubble rapidly). Add fish sauce, pepper flakes, and garlic, and cook, stirring with a whisk until reduced to 1/2 cup and mixture is slightly syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add lime juice and chives. Store sauce in covered container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Place shrimp flat on cutting board, leg-side down and press down until it lies flat and straight. Insert a wooden skewer from the tail to the head. Shrimp should be as straight as possible on skewer.
Set up a breading station: Put flour in one shallow dish, beaten eggs in second, and combine panko, sesame seeds, pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in third shallow dish. Working one skewer at a time, dredge lightly in flour and shake off excess. Dip in egg and turn until evenly coated. Place in bread crumb mixture and press with bread crumbs until well-coated. Repeat with remaining skewers.
Heat oil in a large wok or Dutch Oven over high heat until it registers 350 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Add shrimp and cook, flipping and agitating regularly until golden brown and crispy and shrimp is cooked through. Transfer shrimp to paper-towel lined baking sheet and turn to blot out oil. Season with salt. Wipe skewers with clean paper towel. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping.