Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cooking: Honey Walnut Shrimp

Ah, honey walnut shrimp. I'm not sure where this dish came from. It's not particularly "authentic" but I certainly grew up eating it at restaurants my whole life. One day, I thought to myself, why not try making it? It only has so few components. I could figure it out. After some research online, I developed my own recipe to the taste I remember from my past.
One of the best parts of this dish are the candied walnuts. I normally do not like sweet things but this is excellent. I can eat them like popcorn. Just popping them into my mouth one after another. I saw some recipes that called for deep frying. I wanted to skip that step without giving up flavor and texture. So I found a better way to make them.
First, make your mayo sauce. It's just a combination of kewpie mayo, condensed milk, and lemon juice. I like to make it ahead of time and allow the flavors to marry. I would even make this a day ahead. As for the nuts, I toasted the halved walnuts on a non-stick pan. I stress non-stick as it'll come in handy in the next few steps. Toast until fragrant and browned.
While the walnuts toast, mix together your maltose and water in a heat safe bowl. I like to just maltose as that's what restaurants use. But honey is fine here too. Once the walnuts are toasted, immediately toss them into the bowl with the sugar and water. Mix thoroughly until each and every crevace is covered. Place the walnuts back into the pan and continue toasting. In this process, the water will evaporate and the sugar will caramelize. The walnuts will get really sticky at this point. Hence the non-stick pan.
Once fully caramelized and candied, let the walnuts cool on a non-stick surface like a silicone mat. Let the nuts cool completely. Then break up any large chunks with your hands. You can make a large batch ahead of time and keep them fresh in a ziploc bag.
And now the rest of the dish. The broccoli is super simple. I just blanched them in boiling salted water until just cooked, about 3 minutes. Then I shocked it in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and decorate your platter lining them up in a ring.
Lastly, the shrimp. I like to use medium sized shrimp. They're about 31-40 per pound. I would avoid small shrimp or very large shrimp. Well unless you're a baller and can afford to serve that much jumbo shrimp at once. That's not me though.  Anyway, peel and devein your shrimp. Drain any liquid that may have accumulated.
Add cornstarch and eggs whites. Mix until thoroughly combined and each shrimp is coated.
Heat a large pot of oil up to 350oF. Then slowly drop in the shrimp one at a time to fry. If you add them all at once, they'll clump together. If the temperature of the oil drops significantly. Stop adding shrimp until it comes back up. Drain the shrimp on a wire rack for maximum crunchiness. Once drained, toss with mayo sauce. I forgot to take a picture of that but really it's unnecessary.
Layer the cooked shrimp with mayo in the middle of the dish with the broccoli then scatter the walnuts. This dish is so easy and quick that I've made it on weeknights for dinner before.

Honey Walnut Shrimp
Makes 4-6 Servings
3 tbsp kewpie mayo
3 tbsp condensed milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp maltose/honey
1 tbsp hot water
1 cup halved walnuts
1 crown of broccoli, broken into small florets
40 medium shrimp (31-40 count), peeled and deveined
4 tbsp cornstarch
2 egg whites, whisked
Oil for frying


1. Mix mayo, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a bowl until well combined. Set aside. Can be made a day ahead.
2. Mix maltose and hot water in a heat safe bowl until well combined. Set aside.
3. Toast walnuts in a non-stick pan on medium heat until fragrant and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Immediately add to sugar mixture and toss to coat. Return walnuts back to non-stick pan and continue to toast. The water will evaporate and the sugar will begin to caramelize. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Once all the water is evaporated and the walnuts are very sticky, remove from pan and let cool on a silicone mat. Try to spread it out into one layer. Once completely cooled, break up the walnuts with your hands if they're clumped together. Keep fresh in a plastic container with lid or in a resealable bag. Can also be made a day ahead.
4. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. While the water boils, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Set aside. Once the potted water is boiling, add salt and broccoli florets. Cook until they turn bright green and soften just a bit, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and shock in ice water. Drain from ice water and pat dry. Line your platter with broccoli in a ring. Set aside.
5. Drain and pat shrimp dry if overly wet. Mix cornstarch and egg whites together until homogeneous. Add to shrimp and coat evenly. Set aside.
6. Heat up oil in a medium pot to 350oF. Do not fill the pot more than halfway with oil. Once oil is hot, add shrimp one at a time to hot oil. If the temperature drops, stop adding shrimp. Once the shrimp turns a golden brown, remove to a wire rack to drain. Continue frying shrimp in batches until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes total.
7. Once all the shrimp is fried and drained, toss in mayo sauce in a large bowl. Make sure to coat it evenly. Pile shrimp in the center of the platter with the broccoli. Garnish with candied walnuts. Serve immediately.


  1. i LOVE this!!! I made it a couple of years ago and make it about once a year. lol. :-)

  2. Great dish! Hop Tau Har FTW!

    Kinda unrelated but hope you eventually get on with the sandwich...


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