The Secret Ingredient (Marmalade): Orange Peel Shrimp Recipe

Photographs: Kerry Saretsky

For all that I write about on this site, you might think that my grandmother and I sit around plucking escargots every time we meet for lunch. But our true tradition is a hedonistic Chinese lunch, with fortune cookie reading-aloud time for dessert. And while some of our other dishes may change depending on the week, the one thing we always order is orange peel shrimp: sweet, spicy, savory, and tart all at once, it's meaty and perfect and the kind of thing I always thought I could never in a million years recreate at home.

How wrong I was.

Thanks to the miracle of marmalade, a sweet-tart orange jam full of bitter citrus rind, I have come up with such an easy version, using stuff I always have on hand: frozen shrimp, honey, soy sauce, garlic. The sauce comes together in 3 minutes, and the shrimp in another 2. I serve the intensely flavored shrimp with plain white rice.

What makes marmalade such a perfect secret ingredient is twofold: flavor, and texture. One jar of high-quality marmalade combines bitterness and sweetness in a classic, time-tested balance that takes a lot of experience to achieve in kitchen. And the texture allows a certain stickiness in the sauce. In short, I imagine making this recipe without marmalade would require a lot more kitchen finesse than making it with it. And armed with this recipe, this week I can invite Mémé over to my house, instead of meeting her out at a restaurant. Now, if only I could master fortune cookies.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the angle, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons of honey (preferably orange blossom)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, plus 6 tablespoons
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 pounds 11-15 count shrimp, peeled and deveined, dried on a paper towel


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in small skillet over medium heat. When oil just shimmers, add garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes, and orange zest and cook until fragrant, less than a minute.

  2. Immediately add marmalade, honey, and soy sauce to skillet. Allow to bubble for 1 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, use small whisk to combine the fresh orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch in small bowl. Add slurry to skillet and whisk continuously for 1 final minute until sauce is thick. Set aside.

  4. Toss dry shrimp with remaining cornstarch and pinch of salt. Heat remaining canola oil in wok over medium heat until lightly smoking. Fry shrimp six at a time until orange, curled, and slightly crisp, about 2 minutes, turning once half way through cooking. Drain on paper towel. Repeat for all 4 batches. Add more oil if necessary.

  5. Toss shrimp with orange sauce. Garnish with fresh scallions and orange zest. Serve with plain white rice.