I thought briefly about titling this blog post, “Why I’ll Wear A One Piece Suit This Summer.” But it was too long and anyway, Mark Bittman made me do it. Lately I’ve been (half-heartedly) trying to eat better, eat smarter, eat less. You know the drill. (There’s something about culinary school that urges just a little more butter in the pan.) But then a sneaky little idea crept into my head by way of Mark Bittman’s cookbook, “Fish.”
“Shrimp are easier to fry at home than most other fish,” he wrote. “They cook quickly, don’t overcook too easily and, most important, don’t splatter.”
Fine Mark Bittman. Fine. My supermodel figure will wait.
And anyway, what’s more fun than sinking shrimp (double battered) in a pool of hot oil and watching them turn golden brown? I have half a mind to race back in the kitchen right now and do it all over again. To be quite honest, I have yet to find a shrimp I didn’t love and, of course, any cooking method that works well for twinkies and chicken will certainly work here. I just had no idea how easy it was. (For the record, I didn’t use any fancy equipment — just a pot and a pair of tongs.)
Mark Bittman didn’t actually say anything about double battering but I’m saying it here because it is absolutely the key to really thick, crispy batter that doesn’t fall off in the hot oil. Battering is usually a three step process: coat the shrimp in flour and tap off the excess, slip them into an egg wash and then coat them in bread crumbs. But I’m making it a six step process. I’m saying you should plunk the battered shrimp right back into the flour, transfer to the egg wash and finish with breadcrumbs. Double battering, baby. Go big or go home.
Also, it’s really important to let the battered shrimp hang out in the fridge for a while before you fry them. It’s amazing how 30 minutes sets the batter and ensures it doesn’t fall off in the oil.
After swimming in an oil bath for 3 or 4 minutes, the shrimp become golden brown and crispy and crunchy and all the things incredible deep-fried food should be. The double coating of batter even helps out, protecting the inside of the shrimp, keeping it moist and tender.
Thinking about those shrimp now (sprinkled with lemon juice and dunked into cocktail sauce) sort of has me rethinking the whole North Carolina vacation altogether.
You only live once. Now where did I put those tongs?
1 lb. shrimp, deveined and peeled (except for tail)
2 large eggs, beaten
Set three shallow bowls in a row. Fill the first one with flour, the second with 2 beaten eggs (plus a little water) and the third with bread crumbs. Use you left hand to coat shrimp with flour, shake off excess and set into egg wash. Use your right hand to coat shrimp with egg wash and coat with bread crumbs. (This avoids a mess.)
Repeat the battering procedure.
Place shrimp in the fridge for 30 minutes on a plate or a wire rack. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. You want the oil to be about 350 degrees but if you don’t have a thermometer, dip a shrimp in the oil to test. You want the shrimp to bubble and sizzle in the pot but you don’t want it to spatter. If the shrimp darkens too quickly, turn the oil down. Fry shrimp for 3-4 minutes and transfer to plate lined with a paper towel.
Season to taste with salt and serve with lemon wedges or cocktail sauce.[/print_this]