Fried shrimp is one of my absolute favorite things to eat. Coming from a self-proclaimed “foodie” that statement might seem as though my palette may be a little on the plain side. There’s just something about a pile of fresh-from-the-gulf shrimp that are plump and sweet and fried to a crisp golden brown. Sure I like them steamed and boiled and barbequed and grilled and sautéed and skewered and baked and buttered…
Simmer down there Gump….
I just know that a plate – or a basket – of fresh fried shrimp, some lemon wedges and a few dipping sauces will be my favorite every time. It’s usually my “go-to” dish at a restaurant if I can’t find anything else that strikes my fancy.
My affinity for fried shrimp started as a kid on family vacations to the beach. Regardless if we hit the beaches of the Atlantic or the Gulf, we were always eating fresh seafood. It didn’t matter whether mom was cooking it at the rental or we were dining out, I was pushing for fried shrimp. I didn’t like fish yet, oysters were horrifyingly disgusting and crab was just too much work for a kid. Fried Shrimp was it.
Those trips to the coast are clearly the reason I’m such a shrimp lover. Since we never had it at home, being able to have this delicacy during our many travels became ingrained as a permanent food memory. All I know is it still takes me back. If it comes in a red basket with crinkle fries and coleslaw that’s just way too sweet, it REALLY takes me back.
Weird how food does that, ain’t it?
About The Recipe
I tend to not like the thicker beer batters or tempura style shrimp. The “all panko” or “all cornmeal” coatings tend to impart flavors and textures that take away from the delicate nature of the shrimp. I did like the subtle nuttiness of a little cornmeal and the crunch of a little panko so I started experimenting with a little of each and here’s what seems to work the best for me.
I am a huge fan of Sriracha. I use it quite a bit as a condiment and in other recipes. If you don’t know what Sririacha is, that’s ok. I’ll wait for you to go to the store, go directly to the Ethnic Food Section, grab a bottle and come back to the recipe. I really think the natural red pepper in the egg mixture really makes the coating pop. Be aware that Sriracha is pretty hot so give it a taste and go with your level of heat.
Perfect Fried Shrimp
2 pounds fresh 16-20* headless shrimp
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs – beaten
3 tablespoons sriracha (or hot sauce – Crystal)
1 cup and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup panko
2 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons dried rosemary
Canola or Peanut Oil
*16-20 means that there are 16 to 20 Shrimp per pound
Heat oil to 350 degrees. I always use a 10″ x 3″ cast iron skillet and pour enough oil to come up 1″. Why? Cause my momma told me to. Plus it’s great at even heat transfer.
Peel and devein the shrimp leaving the tails on and the wash the peeled shrimp and dry on paper towels
Place 3/4 cup flour on plate.
In a large bowl or plate, mix flour, cornmeal, panko, salt pepper, rosemary and stir together. In another large bowl pour in milk, buttermilk, beaten egg and sriracha and blend.
Coat each shrimp with a light coating of flour and make sure to lightly tap to remove excess.Dip and thoroughly cover each shrimp with the milk and egg mixture and lightly shake off excess.
Dredge the coated shrimp in the flour mixture and lightly tap to remove excess. Slowly lay the shrimp into the oil and don’t over fill the skillet and fry for around two minutes, flipping each shrimp after a minute or so.
Remove the shrimp and place on a baking cooling rack with a plate & paper towel underneath.
Lightly salt the shrimp and cover with aluminum foil until they are all fried.
Serve immediately with coleslaw, cheese grits, fresh tomato slices and a glass of mint sweet tea!
After dinner, smile and relish in the compliments from you family and friends.