Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Hong Kong Salt Shrimp

I jumped right into this recipe from Raymond Sokolov's The Cook's Canon as soon as I saw the ingredients. I am an absolute nut for Sichuan peppercorns, and while it's apparently a common combination, the mixture of it with Chinese five-spice powder and shrimp sounded remarkable. I'd heard of black pepper shrimp, but this seemed to take the notion one delicious step further.

But the recipe is a little odder than I realized. The shrimp are dropped straight in bubbling oil, tossed with salt, and then coated with Sichuan pepper, black pepper, five-spice powder, and lots more salt. The shells crisp up in the oil, and as Sokolov claims, it is perfectly acceptable to eat the whole package, shell and all. I was reluctant at first, but turns out he's totally right. They are crunchy, but not tough. It works.

The only issue is the sheer abundance of salt. It's kind of a relief to remove the shells. You'll still get the sensation of the spices, but without the abundance of sodium. Perhaps I'll just have a lighter hand next time. My wife brought up a good point—these would make a better appetizer than a main course because they are a little too flavorful.

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