My husband and I worked at an Asian/Fusion restaurant while in college. They had an appetizer called “Crispy Shrimp Rolls” which we both adored. As with Lettuce Wraps, this was a dish that I had to learn to recreate at home. I spent some time perusing the internet for a recipe to begin experimenting with, and I found one we love on the first shot.
This recipe has been adapted from the one Jaden at Steamy Kitchen makes. Hers look more like firecrackers, as she leaves the tails on the shrimp. I still call mine firecracker shrimp because of the kick they get from the marinade and sweet chili sauce. I love the Steamy Kitchen website, and it’s often my “go-to” place when I get a hankering to make Asian food!
Back to the shrimp! Even though firecracker shrimp are slightly time consuming (especially compared to how little time they take to devour), it is such a delicious way to enjoy shrimp. Of course if you add sweet chili sauce to just about anything and you’re good to go, in my opinion!
In case you weren’t aware, shrimp is sold according to size. In general, the bigger the shrimp, the more expensive they are. For Firecracker Shrimp, I recommend using anywhere from 21-30 count to 31-40 count size. The numbers stand for how many shrimp will be in one pound. Thus, 31-40 count means there should be anywhere from 31 to 40 shrimp in one pound. If you use bigger than 21-30 ct, the shrimp will take too long to cook and the wrappers will burn. If you use smaller than 31-40 ct, the shrimp will cook quicker than the wrapper (and overcooked shrimp is a truly sad thing!), and plus you’ll be rolling them up forever. Most often, I use 31-40 ct shrimp and I’m very satisfied with the results.
On to the recipe… Start by making the shrimp marinade. For maximum flavor infusion, grate the ginger and garlic on a microplane. It grates them so finely, and the marinade absorbs the flavors so well. Another advantage of the microplane is that the fibrous nature of the ginger root is no match for the little grating teeth. The grating makes both the ginger and the garlic silky smooth. This may look like a lot of ginger, but I keep my ginger in the freezer, and it’s still somewhat frozen in this picture.
Mix in the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and cornstarch. (See how much the ginger melted?)
Toss in the shrimp and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Use this time to clean up a little bit and get out the deep fryer.
Speaking of deep fryers, this is the recipe that made me go out and purchase a real deep fryer. The Fry-Daddy just wasn’t going to cut it. I’ve never looked back!
After the shrimp has soaked up all of those wonderful flavors, it’s time to start rolling. Blot them with a paper towel to dry them off a little. Then nick them a few times to straighten them out. You don’t want the shrimp to curl up in the fryer, and the little nicks in their bellies will stop that from happening.
Time to get on a roll!
Now, this is not the technique Jaden recommends for making these and I am by no means an expert on deep fried shrimp, but it works well for us. I don’t leave the tail on the shrimp, so I wrap the entire thing in a wonton wrapper. Use a dab of water to help seal the wontons. The water will act as a glue to stick the wonton to itself, so it doesn’t unwrap in the fryer. Here’s a visual of the wrapping/rolling process:
When all of the shrimp are rolled up tight and ready to fry, cook them in small batches. In my fryer, that’s about 7 to 8 at a time.
You don’t want to crowd the oil. Also, if you add too many at once, the temperature of the oil will drop quickly, and the wrappers will absorb more oil. Keep the fried batches on a plate in a hot oven to keep them from cooling while you fry the rest.
I serve these with two types of sauce. The first is just pure sweet chili sauce (the same kind you used to make the marinade). The second is a citrus marmalade just like the one at the restaurant where my husband and I used to work. To make it, use regular orange marmalade and the juice of a lemon.
Spoon some marmalade into a small bowl, and mix in enough lemon juice to give it the proper consistency. I mixed about 1/3 cup of marmalade and about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to make mine. Just make it not too thick, and not too runny.
After they’re all cooked, plate them with sauce on the side. We love to enjoy these with Alice White’s Lexia, as it’s widely available and affordable at about $8-$10 a bottle. However, any good sweeter white wine (such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer) will play nicely with the spiciness of the shrimp. Enjoy!
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen
1/2 to 1 inch fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
Grate ginger and garlic with microplane. Mix with soy sauce, chili sauce, and cornstarch. Marinate shrimp in mixture for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Dry shrimp with paper towel. Nick with a knife to straighten. Roll in wonton wrappers, and seal edges with water. Fry in oil heated to 375 degrees for 2-3 minutes, until shrimp is cooked and wontons are light golden brown. Serve with extra sweet chili sauce and citrus marmalade sauce.