Recipe For Finger Food: Pan-Seared Caramelized Garlic Shrimp


I’m a seafood lover and caramelized garlic shrimp makes my mouth water. It’s a fairly quick and easy recipe that does not require a lot of prep – just 15-20 minutes of marinating time.

The key to making excellent shrimp dishes is to cook the shrimp for the right amount of time and not a moment more. I got this recipe from my aunt. Remember the one who revealed all her secrets for the perfect phở? She used to run a Vietnamese restaurant in the Bay Area in the 90s. All I can say is… it’s worth a try!

1. Info for Finger Food: Pan-Seared Caramelized Garlic Shrimp

  • Cook Time: unavailable
  • Total Time: unavailable
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: unavailable

2. Ingredients for Finger Food: Pan-Seared Caramelized Garlic Shrimp

  • 1 lb raw medium shrimp, shell on
  • 4 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel, freshly ground, to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, or regular red chili powder
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 1 small bowl ginger apricot dipping sauce
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 Tbs fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges

3. Directions:

  1. In a mortar and pestle, finely grind the fleur de sel, sugar, cayenne powder and white peppercorns. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat up a tablespoon of canola oil. Add the sliced shallot and cook until the oil has a nice fragrance. Remove from the heat. Set aside.
  3. Use fresh good looking shrimp. If the product is frozen, it’s not necessary to thaw it. Remove and discard the head of the shrimp. Carefully devein the black part of the shrimp using a sharp hook-like pairing knife, make sure the shells and tails are still on though. Rinse the shrimp under cold running tap water. Then pat dry using a paper towel. There should be as little water as possible. Repeat the same procedure for each shrimp. This step is fastidious but essential for a good product.
  4. Spread all the shrimp in a large tray. Generously coat the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of garlic. Sprinkle the spices from the mortar and pestle. Add about 2 teaspoons of the shallot-infused oil and mix all the shrimp together. Plastic wrap and let the shrimp marinate for 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. In a 10-inch diameter non-stick pan, heat the remaining oil over high heat. The oil should sizzling hot, near the smoke point. Add the rest of the minced garlic and let the garlic get slightly golden (don’t burn it). Pour the shrimp in all at once and spread the shrimp evenly all over the pan. Each shrimp should be in complete direct contact with the pan for an optimal caramelized product. 1 lb of shrimp should be enough so that no shrimp is on top of another. Keep your stove at the highest temperature. Manually flip each shrimp using chopsticks (or tongs) to prevent the shrimp from burning and to get an even coat of caramelization. Cook for another 3-4 minutes (keep flipping each shrimp). At the end, the pan should be dry and have remnants of shrimp-infused garlic at the bottom and each leg of the shrimp should have caramelized garlic stuck to it.
  6. Decorate the shrimp with cilantro, celery, lime wedges and accompany with ginger apricot sauce. Serve immediately. 
  7. Bon appétit!

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