A popular dish, salt and pepper shrimp is related to the equally popular salt and pepper pork chops and salt and pepper squid. The combination of crispiness, saltiness, and mild spice is hard to resist. When salt and pepper shrimp is served, expect a lot of oohs and ahhhs from your dinner guests.
The “pepper” in “Salt and Pepper Shrimp” needs some elaboration before we get started. While Sichuan peppercorns come up most frequently in my “salt and pepper” Google search, white pepper is typically used in Cantonese dishes like “Salt and Pepper Pork Chops” since it is more widely available there.
I’ve found that all three are good: white pepper, black pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, or a combination. You can use whichever spices you choose or that you have on hand.
Making a savory, aromatic, and simple salt and pepper blend is as easy as toasting the ingredients. It’s also possible to make it in large quantities, store it in jars, and give them away as presents, much like jams and pickles. The standard ratio of pepper to salt is two to one. You should use sea salt because of the enhanced taste it will bring to this dish.
For the salt and pepper mixture:
- 2 parts of whole peppercorns
- 1 part of sea salt
For the rest of the dish:
- 1 pound of large deveined shrimp with shells on (with or without heads)
- 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 1 long hot thinly sliced green or red pepper
- 3 tablespoons of potato starch or cornstarch
- 1/3 cup of oil
- salt and pepper mixture
Make the salt and pepper mixture:
- Dry roast the whole peppercorns of your choice in a small pot over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until very fragrant. Adjust the heat so they don’t get burned. After the peppercorns have cooled, grind them with a mortar and pestle and spice grinder.
- In the same pan, dry roast the salt until it turns a pale yellow color over medium heat. In the meantime, grind some pepper and add it to the cooled mixture. You may now use your own homemade salt and pepper powder in any cuisine that calls for “salt and pepper.” As for the rest of the recipe, it’s a breeze.
Prepare the dish:
- Dry the shrimp completely with a paper towel after rinsing them under cold running water. Coat the dredged items in potato starch or cornstarch.
- In a small cast-iron skillet, heat the oil to 375 degrees. Place the shrimp in the oil, leaving about an inch of space between each batch, and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then arrange on a dish lined with paper towels.
- Two teaspoons of oil should be heated in the wok over moderate heat. Fry the garlic carefully and drain it on paper towels.
- Empty the wok of all except a tablespoon or two of oil. Peppers should be added to the wok. Then, return the garlic to the wok and turn off the heat; stir-fry the mixture for a further minute. After 10 seconds of gentle tossing, add the shrimp to the wok and season with a pinch more salt and pepper mixture. Serve!