Salt Water Shrimp (盐水虾)
June 12, 2021  Print
This Salt Water Shrimp recipe is probably one of the easiest way to cook shrimp. The title of this recipe says it all, Salt Water Shrimp is literally boiling and soaking shrimp in a salt based stock. Although the method is extremely simple and the ingredients are few, the result is quite amazing. Preparing shrimp this way preserves and enhances the shrimp’s natural flavor especially well.
One caveat, you need to use whole shrimp, meaning skin-on head-on, to be able to produce the intended result: pure juicy sweet tender meat that tastes like it’s fresh out of the water. I was quite surprised to find my local Costco selling these huge excellent quality 9/14 ct white shrimp in their seafood section for a very reasonable price. They usually sell out pretty quickly but I can usually score some on Monday. Otherwise, your local Asian grocery store should have some whole shrimp in stock.
Does it matter if shrimp you buy are previously frozen? The short answer is not really. Most of us, at least in the US, buy seafood from the seafood section of our local grocery store where the seafood is almost always previously frozen. Shrimp are usually frozen as soon as they are caught so they don’t lose their texture and taste when thawed. As long as the shrimp’s head feel hard to the touch and the shrimp don’t smell fishy, they should be good to go. Use them within two days and never refreeze.
In one of my previous shrimp recipes, Braised Prawn/Shrimp (油闷大虾), I talked about an easier way to clean the shrimp’s head by making a slanted cut on the head with kitchen scissors. The cut removes all the annoying parts but saves the best part (the orange hepatopancreas) intact. But if you do not like to consume the head, you can simply skip ahead and remove only the whiskers and the veins.
Tools: Kitchen Scissors and Toothpick
Gluten Free, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 people
- 1 lb (~450 g) of large head-on skin-on shrimp1
- 1 1.5-inch long piece of ginger
- 2 green onions
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (or rice wine)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Rinse the head-on shrimp. Use kitchen scissors to cut off shrimp’s whiskers (antenna). Then make a slanted cut to remove the majority of the head, except the hepatopancreas, which is the orange/tan colored mass inside the head. If after making the cut, there is still some small black parts remaining in the head (the black part is the stomach, which is connected to the vein all the way to the tail), use a toothpick to pluck it out. Then insert a toothpick into the gap between the 2nd and 3rd tail section from the end to remove the shrimp’s vein. Alternatively, if you are not planning to eat the head, only remove the whiskers (antenna) with kitchen scissors and the vein from the shrimp’s back with a toothpick.
- Fill half of a medium sauce pan with water and heat it under medium-high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, peel and slice the ginger into large slices. Save 1 slice of ginger and mince it (for the dipping sauce). Cut the green onions into long pieces. When the water starts boiling, add the ginger slices, green onion pieces, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper, stirring to mix. Let the herbs and seasoning boil for 2 minutes before adding the shrimp.
- Let the liquid boil again (about 3 -5 minutes), then take all the shrimp out to a plate to cool. Filter some stock out with a strainer and let it cool to at least room temperature (Optional, put the stock in a bowl of icy water, as depicted, to speed up the cooling process). Add the cooled stock to the shrimp and let the shrimp remain immersed in the stock for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
- Arrange whole shrimp directly on a plate. Drizzle some shrimp stock on top. Optional dipping sauce: add the minced ginger, 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar, and 1 tablespoon shrimp stock to a small dipping saucer and mix well.
- I got these 9/14 ct white shrimp from Costco. They need to be head-on and skin-on. Your local Asian grocery store should have some whole shrimp (maybe different size) in stock.
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