If there’s one reason you can entice me to go to a Chinese buffet is because of the salt and pepper shrimps. Shrimps are expensive to buy and in a Chinese buffet you can have your fill without breaking the bank. And there seems to be a Chinese buffet in every city, here in Chicago, they are everywhere. They come in different names – Hibachi Grill, Chinese Buffet, and other Asian names but the salt and pepper shrimp is their mainstay dish. If only for this dish, it is worth exploring these establishments.
My sisters and I celebrated a couple of days after Christmas. My youngest sister requested the salt and pepper shrimp which is so easy to make anyway. They are loaded with flavor, crispy outside and sweet and soft inside. The added sautéed onions and jalapeno in the end adds more spice and fragrance to this simple dish.
2 lbs. shrimps (preferably the smaller ones)
2 cups cooking oil
2 cups cornstarch or rice flour (all purpose flour if that’s what you have)
salt and ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, halved then sliced thinly
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced thinly, diagonally
1/2 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly as above
Clean shrimps by cutting the antenna and anything from after the eyes. The reason smaller shrimps are better is because the shrimp is eaten whole as they get crispy from frying.
Warm your cooking oil in a wok or a deep sauce pan.
Place flour in a plate and roll shrimps in small batches until they are well-coated. Drop them in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. As soon as the shrimps turn orange, take them out from the oil and put in a colander with a plate underneath to let the oil drip rather than a paper towel. In a paper towel, the oil will just sit there soaking the shrimps in oil. While hot, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
When all the shrimps are cooked, transfer the oil in a container and leave only 2 tablespoon. Add garlic, then sliced onion and jalapeno. Add the green onions last and cook it only for a second.
Mix the vegetable mixture with the deep fried shrimps. Serve while hot.