In this quick and easy recipe — adapted from The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift — jumbo shrimp are bathed in a brine flavored with salt, sugar and chili powder, and then sautéed with loads of fresh ginger and garlic. It’s a delicious and flavorful dish that appeals to kids and adults alike. In fact, the recipe headnote reads: “If there is one recipe in this book that is guaranteed to have your family moaning with gratitude, this is it. After eating these shrimp, a five-year-old has been known to say, ‘Wow, Mom, thanks!’ And they’ve driven a grown woman to shamelessly lick her plate—in front of everyone.”
Before we get started, a few words on buying shrimp. Unless you live on the coast and have access to fresh shrimp, it’s best to buy frozen. The “fresh” shrimp you see in the seafood case at the supermarket are almost always thawed frozen shrimp, and you never know how long they’ve been sitting there. Most shrimp are cleaned and flash frozen shortly after being caught, so you’re better off buying frozen shrimp and defrosting them yourself. For this recipe, try to find jumbo frozen shrimp (21-25 to a pound) labeled “shell split and deveined.” Come dinnertime, all you have to do is run the shrimp under warm water to quickly defrost and then peel.
Begin by whisking together the water, kosher salt, sugar and chili powder.
Drop the shrimp in the brine and let them sit for about 20 minutes.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan, and cook the ginger and garlic for one minute.
Add the sugar and cook 1-2 minutes more. Do not let the garlic brown.
Drain the shrimp in a colander.
Then add the shrimp to the pan and cook until done, 3-4 minutes.
Serve the shrimp over white or jasmine rice. The sauce is salty (in a good way) so be sure not to salt the rice. Enjoy!
For the Brine
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 4 cups water
- 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (defrosted)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- One 4-inch x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- In a medium bowl, combine the salt, sugar, chili powder and water. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Drop in the shrimp and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan (preferably nonstick) over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue stirring until the garlic is pale gold, 1-2 minutes more. Do not let the garlic turn dark brown.
- Drain the shrimp in a colander, and immediately add to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are pink and barely firm, another 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with rice.