Oil Sizzled Shrimp is a Cantonese dish featuring shell-on Shrimp steamed over ginger and scallion and drizzled with smoking hot oil.
This little appetizer is adapted from a Chinese recipe I first tried many, many years ago. I can’t quite recall where I saw it, but it is very Cantonese in spirit. Although it is ‘oil sizzled’ the shrimp are actually first steamed with some aromatics, and hot oil is drizzled over them just before serving to really enhance the flavour. Once you have done the finicky part of ‘prepping’ the shrimp, the process is pretty easy.
For this recipe, medium sized unpeeled shrimp with the heads still attached are preferred. You could use larger shrimp, of course, and, in that case, adding a little garlic to the ginger, and a splash of Shaoxing Wine with the soy sauce would be very nice. For the smaller sort, however, just a little ginger and scallion is a bit more subtle for the delicate flesh. Eating shell on shrimp is a bit messy, but the shell really improves the flavor.
The Basic Method for making Oil Sizzled Shrimp
First, you need to open up the shrimp lengthwise with a sharp knife. If these were a larger sort, I would probably butterfly them through the back but, with the smaller ones, it is easier to do this along the underside. Once opened, you need to rinse them under running water to rinse them and, if you see a visible, dark ‘sand-vein’, you can pull it out. To flatten them for steaming, put them belly side down and press against the back.
To add a wonderful aromatic touch to the shrimp while steaming, strew the white and light green parts of the scallion over the bottom of a suitable steaming dish along with the ginger.
Now, lay the shrimp down over the aromatics, sprinkle over the soy sauce, and steam over high heat for about 5 minutes or so until all of the shell is pink. While this is happening, put about a quarter cup of oil into a pan and bring to almost smoking. You won’t need all this oil but it is difficult to heat and pour just a tablespoon, or so, and much easier to heat a little more and save whatever you don’t pour over the shrimp for another use.
When the shrimp are done, scatter over the remaining sections of scallion then pour over enough oil to get everything sizzling. You can, if you like, do this at the table for a very dramatic presentation. Either way, serve immediately.
Your Recipe Card:
Oil Sizzled Shrimp
- ½ dozen Shell-on Shrimp;
- 2 thin slices of ginger finely slivered;
- 1 Scallion sliced into thin rings;
- A splash or two of Soy Sauce;
- Peanut Oil or other neutral tasting type.
- Slit the shrimp open along the underside, remove the ‘sand vein’ if necessary, and then butterfly and flatten, belly side down with the palm of your hand.
- Strew the white and light green parts of the scallion over the bottom of a suitable steaming dish along with the ginger, lay the shrimp over top, and then splash on the soy sauce;
- Steam the shrimp over high heat for about 5 minutes or so until all of the shells are pink.
- Put the oil in a small pan, and heat until the smoking point. Scatter the scallion greens over the shrimp and drizzle over enough hot oil (at the table if desired) to sizzle the shrimp and the aromatics.