- 3 cups peanut, canola, or vegetable oil
- 3 large cloves minced garlic (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili pepper flakes (optional)
- 12 to 16 whole jumbo shell-on, head-on shrimp, about 1 pound
- 1/2 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon five spice powder, Old Bay, smoked paprika, Sichuan peppercorns, or a combination (optional, as desired)
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, scallions and let brown, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chili pepper flakes if using and stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Transfer oil and aromatics to a large metal bowl. Wipe wok clean with paper towel.
Add remaining oil to wok and heat to 375°F over medium heat. Meanwhile, combine egg and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. When the oil is ready, add half of the shrimp, dropping them into the oil one at a time. Cook, agitating and flipping shrimp frequently until crisp and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer shrimp to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining batch.
Add drained fried shrimp to bowl with browned aromatics. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and optional additional seasonings. Serve immediately.