Caramelized Shrimp Recipe

Recipe adapted from Chef Justine Kelly, The Slanted Door, San Francisco

Caramelized Shrimp With Lemongrass, Thai Chiles And Ginger
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Caramelized Shrimp with Lemongrass, Thai Chiles and Ginger from Chef Justine Kelly, The Slanted Door, San Francisco
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 20 minutes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound brown palm sugar, chopped into pieces (available at Asian markets)
  • 1¼ cups fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 Thai chiles, halved diagonally
  • ¼ cup finely chopped lemongrass (from the fleshy base of 3 stalks)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ¼ cup chicken stock or water
  • 3 cups steamed white rice, for serving
Optional Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh shell-on shrimp (16 to 20 shrimp, heads optional)
  1. If using head-on shrimp, use scissors to remove the sharp spikes at the tail and in the center of the head. Cut off the eyes and discard. Separate the head from the body and set the heads aside. Peel each shrimp body, removing the tail, then devein. Sprinkle with pepper and set aside.
  2. Make the caramel sauce: In a large saucepan set over medium-low heat, gently melt the sugar, stirring frequently, until the sugar is lump-free, completely melted and just beginning to boil, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and very slowly stir in the fish sauce (it will bubble up).
  3. In a large, high-sided skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, chiles and reserved shrimp heads (if using) and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the chicken stock and ½ cup of the hot caramel sauce. (Leftover sauce can be refrigerated for several months.) 4. Add the shrimp to the pan and toss to coat. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are bright pink, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, accompanied by the steamed rice.
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