Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Whole shrimp. With heads. And tentacles. All edible. I debated for a while about posting this recipe, which resulted in no blog updates for a week. It tasted fabulous, so much so that we made it twice in one week. But its appearance might be off-putting, possibly intimidating. The shrimp are meant to be eaten in their entirety. In fact, they taste best when eaten this way, since the salty-sweet pepper mixture coats the crunchy shell.

We brought a shrimp to our neighbor so he could try one. He took one look at it and declared us “adventurous eaters.” Hidden meaning: “No way I’m putting that thing in my mouth.” I never really thought of myself as an adventurous eater. I’m not as adventurous as my friend Julia, who has eaten donkey, tripe, live squid, and fried silk worms. Does eating shrimp legs and heads constitute as adventurous eating? The tyke loved the shrimp. Of course, he’ll eat just about anything that’s deep fried.

So here is my question for you readers: if presented with a plate of these succulent, fragrant shrimp, how much of them would you eat? Shell? Legs? Tail? Head?

adapted from a recipe by Luke Nguyen

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Salt and Pepper Shrimp


1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp sugar
Vegetable oil for frying, plus 1 Tbs more
8 large whole shrimp
1 ½ c cornstarch
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced shallot
1 tsp minced fresh red chile or jalepeno chile
3 green onions, green and light green sections sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 lime, quartered


  1. Place salt, pepper, and five spice powder in a hot pan over medium high heat.Dry roast for about 1 minute, stirring a few times.Remove from heat to a bowl, and let cool.Stir in sugar.Set aside.
  2. Place enough oil in a fryer or a dutch oven to reach a 3-inch depth.Heat oil to 300ºF.Place cornstarch in a large bowl.Dredge the shrimp in the cornstarch, shaking off excess.Place four shrimp in the hot oil and fry for 1 minute.Remove with a slotted spoon onto a cooling rack.Repeat with remaining shrimp.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.Add garlic, shallot, chile, and green onions.Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.Add shrimp, tossing to combine.Sprinkle salt and pepper mixture onto the shrimp as you toss, making sure to coat the shrimp well.Remove from heat and serve immediately.


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Sweet Comments:

  1. Your photos are beautiful.

    I would eat it, if offered.

    Close mindedness makes people miss out on many wonderful things!

  2. Suzanne! That is such a sweet tribute to my voracious appetite!! I think anyone who loves cooking and preparing food as much as you do will inevitably be more adventurous than your average person. My dad is the person responsible for helping me embrace all foods. He traveled a lot and I remember when I was a wee thing he came back from Japan and told me they eat the whole shrimp with the head on. He explained that the best flavor was in the head. Ever since then I usually eat the head if it’s served that way, but mainly because I’m too lazy to pick it apart.
    It’s also funny to me to see how relative being an adventurous eater is. I cooked brunch for Emanuele’s family in Italy and you should have seen the worried looks on their face when we served scrambled eggs with ham and mushrooms. Even though they have all those ingredients in Italy, and would even eat them in a frittata, it just didn’t look right to them. But this is the same family that served tripe for Christmas Eve dinner, and the same country that eats donkey, snails and lard. It’s just what you’re used to.
    Great post, the shrimp look delicious.

  3. I’m a wuss. I might try the shell, but have never enjoyed eating it. Can’t do the head, sorry.

    Great pics though.

  4. Yep, I’d eat the entire thing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I buy the shrimps head and all. Eat the entire shrimp. , head and all. Very addicting. Thanks for posting this reciepe

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