I placed a large order at Penzy’s for spices and one of the things I bought was Chinese Szechuan Peppercorns. They aren’t actually peppercorns but are seed husks and they have a complex flavor when made into a simple seasoning for shrimp.
I started by making the salt and pepper powder. Take two tablespoons of the Szechuan peppercorns and toast them in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Remove to a mortar and let cool while you lightly toast one tablespoon of sea salt. Add it to the mortar and use the pestle to grind the salt and pepper into a fine powder.
While the shrimp shells offer some additional flavor, I don’t like wrestling with peeling the shrimp at the table, so I peel them first. Besides, you lose the coating if you peel it after. Your choice to leave the tails on or not – they make a good handle.
The light corn starch coating gives them a little crunch and the salt and Szechuan pepper powder gives them a delicious bite. Served with rice and garlic and ginger green beans (recipe here), you’ve got a quick and terrific meal that takes no time to prepare.
Salt and Szechuan Pepper Shrimp
1 1/2 pound large shrimp
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt and pepper powder
1 cup vegetable oil
Peel and devein shrimp and pat dry.
Whisk cornstarch, salt and pepper powder together in a large bowl. In handfuls, add shrimp and toss to coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry shrimp until golden, crisp, and cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a flattened paper bag and let drain (paper towels can make them soggy). Taste for seasoning and sprinkle on more salt and pepper powder if necessary.
Serve with rice.