Dynamite Shrimp Appetizer

My “Dynamite Shrimp” appetizer is an absolutely delicious way to serve shrimp. It is inspired by the appetizer served at P.F. Chang’s Restaurant where shrimp tails are dipped in tempura batter, fried and then coated with a sriracha aioli. Yum! For the past several years, one of our winter holiday family traditions has been to enjoy a meal at a P.F Chang’s Restaurant. The atmosphere, variety of menu choices and presentation of the oriental foods can’t be beat. This year our favorite dish was “Dynamite Shrimp.” I decided to make a variation of the dish at home. We all agreed that my shrimp appetizer tasted just as good as P.F. Chang’s version and, surprisingly, it isn’t that difficult to make using common household ingredients.

Several years ago (January 20, 2019) I featured a recipe for “Cauliflower Tempura” with a “Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce” on this blog. That recipe is still one of my favorites and is based on a dish from P.F. Chang’s, which sadly, is no longer on their menu. The breaded cauliflower is crunchy and flavorful. I coated the cauliflower with a Sriracha Sauce concoction (rather than Gochujang or Korean sauce). Wow. That was my first time to use Sriracha Sauce. It was hot; but it paired with the cauliflower perfectly. Here is my “Cauliflower Tempura.”

For my “Dynamite Shrimp” dish, I used the same tempura batter recipe as for the cauliflower while adding a little more seasoning — garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. I coated my shrimp tempura with the same “Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce” as in the cauliflower recipe. P.F. Chang’s uses a sriracha aioli which is sriracha sauce blended with mayonnaise. I decided to skip the mayonnaise-based aioli which makes my “Dynamite Shrimp” different from most other recipes. Not to worry, my recipe is still delicious.

“Dynamite Shrimp” Recipe

This recipe is actually easy to mix up and make.

For the shrimp, I used large-sized shrimp (31-40 count) which means that there are 31 to 40 shrimp in a pound. I purchased raw but frozen shrimp. These headless and peeled, deveined shrimp with tail-off came from a Walmart Neighborhood Market. Hopefully, you have this store, too, and can find these shrimp as they worked great in this recipe. Of course, thaw, drain and pat dry the raw shrimp prior to using in the recipe.

Tempura Batter

My recipe for tempura batter is a eclectic concoction of flour, cornstarch, baking powder, egg, salt and ice water — plus this time I added garlic and onion powders and black pepper. This combination of ingredients makes for a crunchy, flavorful batter. It is easy to mix and includes ingredients which you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet.

To make the batter, sift the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the beaten egg and ice water in to the dry ingredients. I used a wire whip. Adjust the batter by adding extra flour or ice water to result in a thick, clumpy batter. You want it to stick to the shrimp. Some lumps may remain in the batter; you don’t want to over-stir the batter.

Plan to use the batter immediately and work in small batches. I used a wok for deep fat frying the shrimp — adding oil (either peanut or canola oil) to about two inches. With the baking powder added, the shrimp puff up (sort of like a fritter) and the result is tender, crisp and flavorful battered shrimp.

I use a kitchen thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil. This is a Weber brand thermometer which you will find along with grilling and smoking equipment. It quickly reads the temperature of the oil. Adjust the heat of the stove to keep the wok oil at 350 degrees –that’s under smoking — and add more oil as needed. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the shrimp will take too long to cook and they will absorb too much oil, they won’t crisp up. If too hot, the shrimp won’t be cooked through.

Fry the coated shrimp on one side until golden brown and then turn over and fry a minute on the second size. This took about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 additional minute on the second side. This takes a little practice, just be patient.

Here’s my “frying station.”

“Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce”

For the “Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce,” mix the ingredients together and heat on the stove to blend. (I omitted the sesame seeds for this recipe.) For traditional “Dynamite Shrimp” an aioli is used. If you prefer this sauce, mix mayonnaise with a little sriracha sauce. Taste and adjust. Plenty of recipes are available on the internet.

Carefully douse the sauce onto the shrimp. For full effect, serve the shrimp on oriental cabbage slaw with green onions slices. This appetizer is most crispy when eaten immediately; so it shouldn’t be made hours ahead of time.

We look forward to family holiday events over the winter break — and culinary adventures. The outing to our local P.F. Chang’s restaurant has become an annual event where we reminisce about what we’ve done over the past year. Plus, it is a time to relax and enjoy an oriental-inspired meal. At this dining experience we discovered a great shrimp appetizer. We successfully made the appetizer at home, too, and ate it up. So, I hope you enjoy my recipe adaption for a flavorful shrimp appetizer to bring in the New Year.

If you are serving folks who don’t care for spicy sauces, another option is to pass the “Hot and Spicy Sriracha Sauce” separately. Really, the shrimp tempura are great just by themselves.

When is the Chinese New Year?

When is the Chinese New Year? This year the Chinese New Year holiday starts on February 1 (or the eve of that date, meaning January 31). New year celebrations last for 16 days (from New Year’s eve to the Lantern Festival or Jan 31 – Feb 15). Traditionally, Chinese citizens have a holiday and are off work for only part of this time. Different countries celebrate for different numbers of days. It is the year of the tiger. It should make for an interesting year!

Dynamite Shrimp Appetizer

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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  • 1 lb large-size (40-61 ct) raw, frozen, peeled and deveined shrimp with tails removed
  • peanut or canola oil, enough to fill Dutch oven, wok or heavy pot to depth of several inches
  • 1 recipe of tempura batter
  • 1 recipe of Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce
  • oriental cabbage slaw, garnish, optional
  • sliced green onions, garnish, optional

Ingredients for tempura batter:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (more as needed)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten slightly
  • 3/4 cup ice water (more as needed)

Method and Steps:

  1. Defrost shrimp: Place shrimp in medium-size bowl. Place in refrigerator until defrosted. Drain shrimp and pat dry. Alternatively, defrost under slowly running cool water until defrosted. Set aside.
  2. Add canola or peanut oil to wok, Dutch oven or heavy pot to a depth of several inches. Increase stove burner setting to medium-high bring oil to just to 350 degrees which is hot, but not smoking. A thermometer is helpful to gage temperature. Adjust heat of stove burner to keep temperature of oil steady.
  3. Made tempura batter: sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper together. Place in medium-sized bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture, add beaten egg and 3/4 cup ice water. Stir with spoon until just combined; some lumps may be present. If too thick add additional ice water. Batter should slide off spoon, but not run off spoon. Add flour, a spoonful at at time, if too thin. Use immediately.
  4. Dip shrimp in tempura batter, one at a time, shake off excess batter. Place in hot oil, working in small batches as space allows in wok, Dutch oven or heavy pot. Fry shrimp for several minutes on one side; turn to fry second side for about one minute, about 3 minutes total. Use a kitchen thermometer to adjust heat to keep oil at 350 degrees.
  5. Remove shrimp to plate lined with paper towels, continue to fry shrimp small batches until all are fried. Replenish oil as needed.
  6. Transfer fried shrimp to serving platter. Use spoon or pastry brush to coat shrimp with “Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce.” Pass remainder of sauce as a dipping sauce.
  7. Garnish shrimp platter with oriental slaw and top shrimp with green onion slices.

Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients for Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic powder and ground ginger in small sauce pan. Bring to boil and stir just until sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in sriracha sauce and sesame oil.

Here is P.F. Chang’s “Dynamite Shrimp”.



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