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Sizzling Shrimp in the Skillet (OK Grill Pan) and in the Fryer!

September 8, 2011

Shortly before my husband and I took off for a (almost) 2 week vacation to Thailand, we were trying to clean out our refrigerator and figure out what we could make for dinner with what we had on hand and by spending only a minimal amount of money at the grocery store.

After looking around our kitchen, the pantry, the refrigerator and freezer, we figured out that we had frozen shrimp that we could make into something.  But what?  My husband came up with the idea to make shrimp wontons, as long as I was on the one making it (lucky me?).  I came up with the idea to make grilled shrimp of some sort since we had some grated horseradish and I really like cocktail sauce that has a nice horseradish bite to it.  After a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up wonton wrappers we settled a menu of shrimp stuffed deep-fried wontons along with cilantro lemon (we didn’t have a lime) grilled shrimp served with horseradish cocktail sauce.

Growing up in an Asian family, for me, making wontons is easy.  I actually really enjoy stuffing and folding the wontons.  It’s a fun activity that you can actually do sitting in front of the TV (sshhhh!!).  To make the stuffing, all I did was peel and de-vein shrimp and then diced up the shrimp.  I diced small enough that there were still some identifiable chunks of shrimp, but I didn’t want this to be too chunky or too minced, so I tried to find a happy medium.  I added the diced shrimp into a bowl with freshly minced garlic, ginger powder (I didn’t have any fresh ginger), freshly grated black pepper, salt, soy sauce, worchestershire sauce, an egg, and some bread crumbs to pull it all together.  Mix everything together and you’re ready to go!

Now all you have to do is put the stuffing into the wonton wrapper and seal it up!  Easy, right?  Come on, it’s not that hard.  Nowadays, you can find wonton wrappers anywhere!  Just look in the refrigerated section of the store.  They generally come in packets of 100 wrappers and each wrapper is separated from sticking to the other wrappers with the use of flour.  Be prepared when you do this that you’re going to have to get your fingers dirty!  Basically, the wonton wrappers come in a square shape.  All you need to do is take a small spoonful of the stuffing and place it right into the center of the wonton wrapper.  Dip your pointer finger into a bowl of water, and wet the inside edge along 2 of the four sides of the square shape.  This will create a seal to close up your wonton.  Some people use an egg wash to seal the wonton, but it’s really not necessary, water works just as well.  Remember, we’re talking about a small amount of water to close up the edge, we’re not talking about soaking the wonton.  Now, just fold the wonton by taking one corner (the one that isn’t wet), and bringing it towards the opposite side corner that is wet and pressing gently to create a seal.  Basically, you create a triangle shape sealed wonton with your stuffing in the middle closed into the triangle.  You can create additional flair to the look of your wonton by then pinching in both sides at the top (away from your stuffing) and using a little more water to seal it up.  But really, this is just for decoration and isn’t necessary.

Once you’ve got your wontons all stuffed and ready to go, just crank up the temperature on your deep fryer, or throw some canola oil into a dutch oven or cast iron pot on the stove and turn up the heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees.  Once the oil is ready, throw a few wontons at a time into the oil.  This fries up pretty quickly, and since the stuffing is made of shrimp, it doesn’t take very long at all.  We’re talking about 2 minutes max per side.  When one side browns, just flip it over and do the other side.  When the wonton looks golden brown, take it out and drain it on a paper towel lined plate.  Don’t let it sit in the hot oil or it will quickly become an overcooked and charred mess!

The second dish of the night was a cilantro lemon grilled shrimp.  I was kind of inspired by a very similar pre-made cilantro lime shrimp that they sell at Costco by the pound.  The Costco product is actually something I’ve purchased when they first introduced the product and had it on sale.  But even then, while the shrimp was really good, and I ended up grilling it and putting it into a delicious sandwich, I thought that for what I’m paying, I could certainly make this at home for even less.  So, I gave it a try.  Basically, I started with frozen shrimp that had been de-veined, but not peeled.  I thawed it and peeled the shrimp, leaving the tails on.  Separately, I created a marinade sauce using olive oil, a splash of rice wine vinegar, lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly grated pepper, salt, minced fresh garlic and a generous portion of chopped cilantro.  Mix the marinade together and pour it over the peeled shrimp.  Stir everything together so that the shrimp is coated in the marinade.  Throw everything into the refrigerator and let the flavors from the marinade soak into the shrimp.  The longer you let it marinade, the tastier it will be.  The lemon and cilantro combination really infuses itself into the shrimp and really imparts this herby tangy bite to the shrimp once grilled.    When you’re ready, get your grill nice and hot and throw these bad boys on.  Shrimp cook really quickly, so you don’t need more than a couple of minutes on each side.  Serve the grilled shrimp alongside some home-made cocktail sauce (courtesy of my husband, with an extra bite of a lot of horseradish added!) and you’re golden.

A shrimpy meal of shrimp stuffed fried wontons and grilled cilantro lemon shrimp served with tangy, spicy cocktail sauce.  That was a good and filling meal, and really so much fun to make!

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