Shrimp is a crustacean and a popular type of seafood. Deep-fried shrimp is shrimp that has been cooked by being submerged in cooking oil, usually after being dipped in batter or another type of coating. Unlike frying in a thin layer of oil in a skillet, which may require that the shrimp be turned at some point to ensure thorough cooking, deep-frying allows one to submerge the shrimp in the oil for a faster cooking time and more consistent doneness.
To deep-fry shrimp, it is first necessary to peel and devein them. One first removes the shrimp’s shell and then the black vein that runs along the shrimp’s back. One can lift the vein out with a knife or wipe it out with a paper towel.
Preparing a batter for deep-fried shrimp is common. Wet batters combine eggs and flour or flour and another liquid, such as beer or club soda. One also may choose to dredge the shrimp in seasoned flour or cornmeal instead of a wet batter. Tempura batters, borrowed from Japanese cuisine, also are an option, combining eggs, water and flour. Restaurant and gourmet versions of deep-fried shrimp may feature breadcrumbs, grated coconut or slivered almonds.
The temperature of the oil used for deep-fried shrimp is normally between 350° and 375° Fahrenheit (176.6° to 190.5° Celsius). The high temperature cooks the shrimp quickly and seals in moisture. To maintain the optimum cooking temperature, it is important to cook only a few shrimp at a time.
Deep fryers for restaurants and home use usually have a mesh or slotted basket to hold the food that one is cooking. After placing the shrimp into the fryer basket, one submerges the entire basket in the hot oil. As the shrimp cook, they float to the top of the oil. A deep-fryer typically allows one to position the basket above the oil after cooking to drain the finished shrimp and eliminate excess oil.
If a deep-fryer is not available, one can substitute a Dutch oven. This type of large, deep skillet allows one to deep-fry shrimp in 3 inches or 4 inches (7.6 cm to 10 cm) of oil. For best results, one should use a metal mesh colander in place of the fryer basket. This method also requires the use of a large slotted spoon to remove the cooked shrimp.
Total cooking time for deep-fried shrimp is less because all surfaces of the food heat at the same time. The shrimp also absorb less oil when cooked using this technique. The oil that one chooses for deep-frying must have a high smoke point. Peanut and soybean oils are good choices for high-temperature frying.