Steamed Buns With Grilled Shrimp and Sriracha Mayonnaise Recipe

Plump and tender grilled shrimp with a nicely browned crust. Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt. Video: Natalie Holt

Why It Works

  • Treating the shrimp with salt and baking soda helps them stay plump and juicy and brown more efficiently as they grill.
  • Drying the shrimp out in the refrigerator gives them a jump-start on browning.
  • Squeezing the shrimp together on a skewer gives them less surface area, which helps them stay juicier as they cook.
  • Tossing them in a garlic- and chili-infused sauce after cooking offers more flavor than a marinade.

Our perfectly grilled shrimp have a clean, sweet shrimp flavor with a nicely charred crust and a plump, juicy texture. I like to stuff them into tender steamed Chinese buns with crunchy toppings, like shredded cabbage and quick homemade pickles, along with a spicy and creamy sriracha mayonnaise.


Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Serves: 6 servings

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  • For the Shrimp:
  • 24 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8g) kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3g) sugar
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 small hot red chili, such as Thai bird, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Sriracha Mayonnaise:
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) sriracha, plus more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons (75ml) store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) juice from 1 lime
  • To Assemble:
  • 12 Chinese folded steamed buns, steamed in a steamer or in the microwave until tender (see note)
  • 1 recipe Quick-Pickled Cucumbers With Rice Vinegar
  • 1 cup finely shredded green cabbage


  1. For the Shrimp: Combine shrimp, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Thread shrimp onto sets of 2 skewers, alternating heads to tails and pushing shrimp so that they are nestled snugly together. Place 6 shrimp on each set of 2 skewers. Lay skewers on top of a baking dish so that shrimp are suspended above bottom of dish. Transfer to refrigerator and allow to rest for 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine half of garlic and half of oil in a small bowl. Combine remaining garlic, oil, chili, and scallions in a large bowl. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, for the Sriracha Mayonnaise: Combine sriracha, mayonnaise, and lime juice in a small bowl and stir. Add more sriracha until desired level of spiciness is achieved. Cover and refrigerate.

  3. When shrimp are ready to grill, brush both sides with first garlic/oil mixture. Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.

  4. Place shrimp directly over hot side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through and well charred, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer shrimp to a cutting board.

  5. Carefully remove skewers from shrimp and transfer to bowl with garlic/oil/chili/scallion mixture. Toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

  6. To Assemble: Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons (7ml) sriracha mayonnaise on the bottom of each bun. Top with pickles and shredded cabbage. Top with 2 shrimp each and close buns. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Grill, bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes


Chinese-style folded steamed buns can be found in the refrigerated section of Chinese grocery stores. To heat, line a bamboo steamer with perforated parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. Arrange buns in a single layer without letting them touch and place steamer over a wok or pot of simmering water. Steam until heated through, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, place buns on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp towel. Microwave in 30-second intervals until heated through, about 1 minute total.

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