Fried seafood makes for a perfect summer meal. Fried fish, fried shrimp, fried clams, fried scallops. And French fries. Having heard David’s stories of traveling the New England coast to eat at the most iconic seafood shacks, I can almost taste it now. Though lobster rolls tend to be the preferred northeastern summer dish, fried clams, stuffed clams and chowders abound.
These famous seafood shacks are the pride of anyone who hails from the northeast. And while he boasts that he has visited all of the best spots, it’s still a bucket list item for me. Since I grew up in Texas, I am familiar with Gulf Coast seafood. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the bounty of the east coast summer seafood options.
And as much as I love fried seafood, it’s not something I make at home–or want to make at home. I prefer to leave this to the seafood experts with a fryer in a big kitchen and have someone else clean up the greasy mess. But that all changed when I saw this super colossal shrimp at Whole Foods. A heaping platter of golden delicious fried shrimp flashed before my eyes and I was convinced I needed to give homemade fried shrimp a chance.
How to Make Fried Shrimp at Home
Even though I avoided this seemingly daunting culinary task for 53 years, I quickly realized making fried shrimp at home isn’t all that hard. But it does take some attention and a three-step process to prep the shrimp for breading.
First, peel the shrimp. Save the shells in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. Once the bag is full of shells, you can make a delicious shrimp stock which will be a great base for shrimp tortilla soup or this spectacular summer shrimp and corn chowder.
Next, devein the shrimp and this cheap but mighty little tool (or this one) makes it super simple to remove both the shell and the digestive tract at the same time.
Then it’s time to butterfly the shrimp. Using a paring knife, cut along the backside where you removed the yucky stuff. Slice the shrimp open so it separates and looks like a beautiful butterfly that is going to fly away. Be careful not to slice all the way through.
Now, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Dredge each shrimp in beaten egg, a dusting of flour and panko. Place the breaded shrimp in the fridge for a few hours and you’re ready to fry these babies up for a summer feast you won’t soon forget.
Choose Your Sides
Fried shrimp combines beautifully with so many sides. Coleslaw. Corn on the cob. Beans and rice. French fries. Sauteed vegetables and rice. Choose whatever you like best and dive into a savory golden fried shrimp platter. When you taste how good these fried shrimp are, I am guessing you’ll be a convert like me. And to think I am actually excited about making these again.
This was my first--but not last--time making fried shrimp at home. All you need are fresh and big shrimp and you'll agree that these are seriously worth the effort.
- 1 lb fresh shrimp U 9-12s are best for this dish
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or brown rice flour
- 1 cup panko I used gluten-free panko
- 1 cup grapeseed oil for cooking
- 1 lemon quartered
Peel the shrimp. If you are into repurposing ingredients, be sure to save the shells in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. When the bag is full, you can make shrimp stock.
Next, devein the shrimp. (If you have a trusty little shrimp sheller and deveiner, use it.)
Using a paring knife, cut along the backside where you removed the yucky stuff. Slice the shrimp open so it separates and looks like the wings of a butterfly. Be careful not to slice all the way through.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.
Now we will prepare our breading station. Crack two eggs in a shallow dish and beat well. Place the flour in another shallow dish and the panko in a third dish.
Dredge each shrimp in beaten egg, a dusting of flour and panko.
Place the breaded shrimp on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow the breaded shrimp to chill in the fridge for an hour, a few hours or overnight. This will ensure the breading clings to the shrimp and doesn't come off during cooking.
When ready, place the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once the heat is hot, turn the heat down to medium-high and carefully set the breaded shrimp in the skillet, but do not overfill the skillet. If needed, do this in two or more batches.
Cook the shrimp for three minutes until the underside is golden delicious.
Using tongs, flip the shrimp so the other side cooks thoroughly, another three minutes or until golden.
When cooked, place the shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce and your favorite sides.
Refrigerate any leftover fried shrimp and eat them cold the next day.
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