Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Honey walnut shrimp

Recently, I had lunch at China Chili's with my co-workers, and was mystified by a shrimp dish that one of them ordered. It was a plate of whole shrimp in a white, creamy sauce, which I was informed was mayonnaise based, served on a bed of lettuce. Candied walnuts were sprinkled over the top. I'd never seen anything like it. It got rave reviews from those who had, though. I remembered I had some frozen shrimp in the freezer and decided to try to find a recipe. I didn't know the actual name of the dish, but found out it went by "candied walnut shrimp," "honey walnut shrimp," and the unappealing and almost stomach-churning "mayonnaise shrimp." I was a little wary, since recently fried shrimp stirred into a mayo sauce sounded a bit dangerous. I'm brave, though, and tackled the dish head-on. I had just about everything I needed in my kitchen, except for the sweetened condensed milk that many recipe versions called for. With the honey and mayo (or Smart Balance Omega Plus, in my case), I figured that the sauce would be sweet and creamy enough.

Open-pot frying: not for the weak of heart. The batter, made with egg whites and starch (flour, cornstarch, or rice flour, which I opted for), made for more of a tempura-type crust than a "Southern fried" crust, which I really liked.
honey walnut shrimp

I couldn't decide which picture I liked better: which shoe--the left foot? The right foot? The left foot? The right foot? The actual dish was somewhere between the first two, and brighter than the third--the shrimp had a nice, golden, pinkish tint, and the spinach was vibrant and green. My co-worker who ordered the dish said it was a bit odd with the lettuce. Some recipes called for shredded cabbage. I rarely have lettuce on hand, and I'm not fond of raw cabbage, but I almost always have spinach. It tasted really delicious over the spinach! Oh man! The dressing itself was tasty and easy--mayo, honey, and lemon juice, in decreasing increments, respectively. Recipes called to add a bit of sweetened condensed milk here, too, but I didn't. I made sure to go light on the mayo because I read reviews saying a lot of versions went too thick with it.
honey walnut shrimp honey walnut shrimp honey walnut shrimp

Edit: I talked to my co-worker who stronlgy advocates the dish, and she told me the shrimp at the restaurant isn't battered. Bonus! You can just stir-fry the shrimp and save yourself the cleanup, calories, and potential catastrophe of over-cooked shrimp! Cook time for this version would take about a third of the time!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

At the fabulous Chinese King Restaurant in Lake Charles, LA Chef Jack Wong serves his shrimp with fresh steamed broccoli and crispy white vermicelli noodles. His shrimp are unfried as well, and he may use pecans - my memory is flagging! Skip the rice, and this is a surprisingly light dish for something that comes with mayonnaise sauce. Delicious!!!!!!!

Julie said...

It definitely didn't need the rice--it was so delicious on spinach! Thanks for the 4-1-1 on how other chefs do it!