M-80 Rock Shrimp Recipe By Chef Brian Malarkey

Shrimp gets a spicy kick from M-80 sauce

At a restaurant where the cuisine is described as "Asian cowboy" and the motto is "West Eats Meat," executive chef Brian Malarkey's fiery, soy-based M-80 sauce fits right in. Malarkey, the chef-owner of San Diego's new Burlap, named the sauce after the notoriously potent firecracker, its intensity imbuing the dish with "personality and pop." Combined with vibrant slaw and tiny, sweet rock shrimp, the M-80 sauce provides the right amount of kick, living up to its pyrotechnic-inspired moniker.

Recipe adapted from Brian Malarkey, Burlap, San Diego, CA

M-80 Rock Shrimp
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At a restaurant where the cuisine is described as "Asian cowboy" and the motto is "West Eats Meat," executive chef Brian Malarkey's fiery, soy-based M-80 sauce fits right in.
Prep Time
Cook Time
appetizer-size servings
Total time: 0 minutes
  • M-80 Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sambal chile paste
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • One two-inch piece fresh ginger, scraped/peeled and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Slaw
  • ½ head green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ medium carrot, thinly sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ medium red pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 Serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 5 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Shrimp
  • Vegetable oil
  • ½ pound rock shrimp (or substitute 16-20 count shrimp cut into small cubes)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Black and white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro leaves
  1. Make the M-80 sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Set aside. In a small saucepan, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, chile paste, orange juice, chile, garlic and ginger and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch-water mixture and bring the sauce back up to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove the sauce from the heat and strain through a fine- mesh strainer. Set aside to cool.
  2. Make the slaw: In a medium bowl, toss together the green and red cabbage, carrot, red pepper, onion, garlic, chile and basil. Set aside.
  3. Make the shrimp: In a medium saucepan set over high heat, add enough oil to come halfway up the pot; heat until the oil reaches 350° (use a thermometer to measure the temperature). Put the rock shrimp in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp, drain off the excess buttermilk and, in a separate bowl, toss the shrimp with the flour. Shake off the excess flour and fry the shrimp for 1 to 1½ minutes until they are golden and crispy. Remove the shrimp from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  4. In a large skillet set over high heat, sauté the reserved slaw and a third of the prepared M-80 sauce (reserved the remaining sauce for another use). Use a pair of tongs to toss the mixture until the slaw is coated evenly. Stir in the rock shrimp and toss again. Serve immediately with the sesame seeds, green onions and cilantro.
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