Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bang Bang Shrimp "Better than sex!" blurts Justin. [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 to 10 as an appetizer

"Oh man," groans Justin, a tall, sandy-haired twenty-six-year-old, as he grabs a third Bang Bang Shrimp from the tray. "This is better than sex."

Conversation peters away as others crowd around, quickly skewering a shrimp, then another.

Party time in New Jersey last year with Zack's friends and work associates. Having made Bang Bang Shrimp as a quick appetizer, Zack was walking the tray through the packed room. (Don't worry, Justin is not the dude's real name. Wouldn't want to cause trouble with the girlfriend...)

But Bang Bang hasn't been an attention-getter in New Jersey alone. It's made its mark throughout Ohio, and in Tennessee, South Carolina, New York, and many points in between as people have asked for the recipe. Yeah, this might need to be filed in the Life-Changing section of the blog.

So where'd this crazy thing come from anyway? Several years back I had the Bonefish Grill restaurant version of Bang Bang Shrimp during a girls' night out. Not even looking for anything revolutionary, just something decent to eat. But it was wonderful.

In trying to replicate it, I combined my little bit of foodie knowledge with online suggestions to get this basic iteration. And you can add in the stuff you like: some jalapenos, extra lime, maybe a sprinkle of cilantro. But the basic notes should remain: heat (go big or go home!), a touch of sweet, the salty undercurrent of soy, the light creaminess of mayo and the crunch of the crispy-fried shrimp.

Now, as fab as this sauce is, don't--don't!--get all excited and pour the whole bowl of sauce over the shrimp. Start with a little and go easy. Too much makes it gloppy and heavy.

Not that Justin would have a problem with that.

Bang Bang Shrimp

1 lb. uncooked shrimp, tails and shells removed, de-veined
1 beer
1/2 to 1 cup corn starch
Canola oil for frying

Soak shrimp for 10 minutes or so in beer.
Roll in corn starch, saute in canola oil until crispy, drain on paper towels.

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Kewpie mayo from Japanese market, can do with regular)
Sriracha to taste (approx 1 to 2 T)
Sweet chili sauce to taste (approx 1T)
1 T soy sauce

Sprinkle finished dish with:
Red pepper flakes
1 to 2 scallions, minced
Black sesame seeds (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

The sauce is done to taste--keep mixing until you hit upon the combo that's not too sweet but not too mayo-y. Then just before serving, toss shrimp in sauce, coating evenly.
Serve on platter with shredded lettuce underneath, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and minced scallions sprinkled on top. Lime wedges are also good for added flavor.

Suggested soundtrack: Ciara's "Gimmie Dat"