Firecracker Shrimps

Firecracker Shrimps

Firecracker shrimps is your answer to an easy meal! The shrimps are fried individually for a guaranteed crunch and then tossed in a spicy, fragrant and garlicky sauce. Most importantly, never skip the step to use the aromatics correctly and you‘ll crave for more.

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Preparation 15 mins
Cooking 15 mins

Side, Appetizer

American Chinese

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Firecracker shrimps is the answer to a quick dish. Coated in a sweet, savoury and mildly spiced sauce that takes less than a minute to make, this dish is always a star at the table. It is the fresh zesty flavour in the marinade that enhances the natural flavour of the shrimps. When dredged in cornstarch shortly before frying, it creates a thin layer of crisp (much thinner than tempura) to lock the sauce onto its surface. Paired with the DIY sauce, each bite promises an explosion of flavours. Aromatics such as coriander seeds, chilli flakes and black peppercorns give the sauce the extra kick. Now, what is there not to like about the dish?

Origins of Firecracker Shrimps recipe

The dish has elements of the Chinese cuisine which explains why it is not a surprise to see the dish offered on menus in restaurants like Panda Express or Walt Disney World Resort's Yak and Yeti restaurant. The recipe actually originates from a Malaysian chef, Alex Ong, who was the chef and managing partner of Betelnut, an award-winning restaurant in San Francisco.

How do Firecracker shrimps taste like?

Ingredients to make the sauce
Ingredients to make the sauce

The sauce is a perfect marriage of sweet and spiciness. Even though there are chilli flakes in the dish, it is not too spicy. It's just enough to tickle your taste buds. The yellow onion slices caramelize and release a sweet flavour as they cook. It may not be a direct comparison but if you love Sweet and Sour Pork, you will enjoy this dish a lot!

Secret tip to enhance flavours

The key to this recipe is in the aromatics. Letting the spices infuse in the wok or pan before adding the rest of the sauce ingredients takes this recipe to a whole new level of flavours.

3 secrets to prevent soggy shrimps

Do keep these 3 tips in mind when attempting this dish.

Test temperature with a thermometer
Test temperature with a thermometer

  1. The perfect temperature for frying is 188 degrees Celsius/ 370 Fahrenheit. Instead of a thermometer, use a wooden chopstick to test the oil to see if it is heated properly. If bubbles appear when the wooden chopstick is dipped into the oil, you can begin frying.
  2. When frying, do not crowd the surface of the wok. Fry in batches. It may be difficult to toss the fried shrimps if space is limited, thus resulting in the shrimps being soggy.
  3. This recipe works best using a wok. If you do not have a wok, a large stainless steel skillet works well too.

Just after frying
Just after frying

Substitutes for mirin and chilli flakes

Besides mirin, you can use Shaoxing wine instead. To add some heat, just add some chilli oil.

How to serve?

This dish is so versatile. It goes really well with steamed white rice. If you are a fan of poke bowl meals, a portion of Firecracker prawns instead of the classic marinated salmon can be a great twist. This may also work with sushi.

If you are not a fan of rice, it works well as a pasta dish by adding some cooked spaghetti.

It can also be served as an appetizer in lettuce wraps for a light meal. Otherwise, serve the shrimps in tacos, burgers, quesadillas, sushi rolls and even sandwiches. It is a super fun and delicious dish. Go ahead and be creative!


1 lb
2 tbsp
1 tbsp
oyster sauce
3 tsp
sesame oil
1 tbsp
lemon zest
1 1⁄8 tsp
1 1⁄8 tsp
black pepper
1 cup
corn starch
3 cups
yellow onion(s)
garlic clove(s)
1 tbsp
2 tbsp
blackpepper corns
1 tsp
coriander seeds
1⁄4 cup
1⁄4 cup
hoisin sauce
1⁄4 cup
1 tsp
chilli flakes
1 tbsp
sugar (brown)
1 tbsp
almond flakes Optional

Steps to Prepare

Firecracker Shrimps Step 1

Step 1 of 5

    • 1 lb shrimps
    • 2 tbsp mirin
    • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp lemon zest
    • 1⁄8 tsp salt
    • 1⁄8 tsp black pepper

Combine mirin, oyster sauce, sesame oil, lemon zest, salt and black pepper to mix evenly. Add the mixture to the shrimps and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Firecracker Shrimps Step 2

Step 2 of 5

    • 1 cup corn starch
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper

Prepare flour for dredging by combining cornstarch, salt and black pepper. Working in batches, lightly dredge the marinated shrimps in the cornstarch mix. Dust off any excess cornstarch before placing them on a baking sheet.

Firecracker Shrimps Step 3

Step 3 of 5

    • 3 cup oil

Heat oil in a wok over medium to high heat bringing the temperature to 188 degrees Celsius/ 370 Fahrenheit. Fry the shrimps for 2 to 3 minutes in batches. They are typically done when they start to float. Set shrimps aside.

Firecracker Shrimps Step 4

Step 4 of 5

    • 1⁄2 yellow onion(s)
    • 2 garlic clove(s)
    • 1 tbsp ginger
    • 2 tbsp blackpepper corns
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds
    • 1⁄4 cup mirin

Discard oil after frying the shrimps. Wipe the wok clean. Re-heat the wok over medium to high heat. Add sliced onions, thinly sliced garlic, grated ginger, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and mirin. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Firecracker Shrimps Step 5

Step 5 of 5

    • 1⁄4 cup hoisin sauce
    • 1⁄4 cup water
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp chilli flakes
    • 1 tbsp sugar (brown)
    • 1 scallions
    • 1 tbsp almond flakes Optional

Add hoisin sauce, water, sesame oil, red chilli flakes and brown sugar to the wok. Toss the fried shrimps in the sauce. Cook for 1 minute or until the shrimps are evenly coated. Plate and garnish with freshly sliced scallions and toasted almonds.

Published: April 24, 2021

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