Szechuan-Style Crispy Salt & Pepper Shrimp

July 2020

This dish is an umami bomb; crunchy, spicy and bold which made it one of the most popular dishes in the Szechuan menu. True to the character of Szechuan food, this recipe is a burst of garlic and chili flavors both of course could be tempered down to personal palate preference. 


So far, this is the only shrimp recipe I know wherein you'll be able to eat the shrimp shell-on easily and edibly. In fact, the crispy shell in this dish is actually the star of the plate, crunchy on the outside-soft and juicy on the inside. 


Shrimp shells are an excellent source of chitosan which aids in lowering bad cholesterol increasing good cholesterol and lowers triglycerides. Shrimp shells also have antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties. Nutrition benefits aside, this dish is crave-worthy that it will change the way  you perceive shrimp shells and makes you think twice before discarding.

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Trivia: Szechuan province in China is knows to have a lot of rainy days. This is why most of their cuisines have evolved with the use of antioxidant rich ingredients like garlic & chili peppers to counter susceptibility to infection when the body temperature lowers down due to the damp weather.


1 lb.                  Shrimp (head on, cleaned & deveined)

1/2 cup            Garlic (minced & fried ahead)

1 pc                  *Chili Pepper of choice (sliced thinly)

1/2 cup            Cilantro (chopped)

1 tbsp.              Salt (iodized)

1 tbsp.              Ground Szechuan peppers or White Pepper

As Needed       Rice Flour or Corn Starch

As Needed       Vegetable Oil 

Garnish            **Fennel or Spring Onions

*Bell pepper is a good option if you don't like spicy flavor

**Fennel has a nice anise-like aroma that compliments asian flavor well


  1. Coat the cleaned & deveined shrimps generously with starch, set aside in the refrigerator for at least 5-8 minutes to set.

  2. In a medium sized pan, fill enough oil to cover the shrimp when it fries and cook until it reddens, crispy and floating on the surface of the pan. Rest on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

  3. In a shallow pan (without oil), mix and toast the iodized salt and white pepper on medium heat until it's aromatic. 

  4. Add back the fried shrimps, fried garlic, sliced fresh peppers on the toasted salt and pepper mix and continue to toast & toss until evenly coated with spice. Take out from the heat, add in the cilantro, garnish & serve.


The Pairing:

Mitcher's Single Barrel Rye 

ABV 42.4

After the indulgence with this intense spiced seafood dish my go to whiskey is rye. The peppery notes provides a good continuance and the grassy fresh flavors, a nice palate cleanser.

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