Sweet and Sour Shrimp Recipe

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Sweet and sour pork, or gu lou yuk, is an iconic Cantonese dish. Made with crisp, deep-fried pieces of meat, sweet peppers, and golden pineapple chunks all coated in a bright and glossy sweet and sour sauce, the dish is beloved from across China to around the world. This variation swaps the pork for shrimp, a less popular choice of protein—but if you make it right, it tastes even better than the original.

Sweet and Sour Shrimp Recipe

For the Shrimp

1 1/2 pound shrimp, without heads, deveined, peeled, and butterflied
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
Dash of rice wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

For the Vegetables

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 small onion, cubed
1/4 green bell pepper, cubed
1/4 red bell pepper, cubed
1/4 cup pineapple, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced

For the Sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

  1. Prep: Add the shrimp to a large bowl and season with the salt, white pepper, and rice wine. In a small bowl, make a cornstarch slurry by mixing together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water, then add the slurry to the shrimp. Crack in the egg and use your hands to mix well. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, you can chop your vegetables and prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, rice vinegar, ketchup, sugar, and chicken stock. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Deep-fry the shrimp: Pour 1 1/2 cups cornstarch into a large bowl. Use your hands to squeeze each shrimp into a tight ball, then dip it into the cornstarch. Keep squeezing the shrimp into a ball as you coat it with cornstarch. Transfer to a plate to rest while you do the same with the rest of the shrimp. Let the shrimp rest for 5 minutes before frying, so the cornstarch sticks better.
  4. In a large pot, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. (You can test the oil temperature with a pair of wooden chopsticks: Stick the chopsticks into the oil, and if you see lots of tiny bubbles immediately form around them, then the oil is ready for frying. Make sure your chopsticks are completely dry before they touch the hot oil.)
  5. Carefully transfer the shrimp into the oil. Deep fry for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly cook all sides, until the shrimp turn pink, with pale golden exteriors. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. Stir-fry the vegetables: In a large pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, pineapple, and garlic, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  7. Combine: Lower the heat to medium-high and add the sauce to the same pan. Cook for 1 minute; it should be simmering. In a small bowl, make a cornstarch slurry by mixing together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water, then add the slurry to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Add the shrimp and vegetables and stir to coat everything in the sauce. Serve.
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