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Recipe: thai firecracker shrimp

What do you know? It started snowing earlier this week! It was only a few inches at first, so we didn’t get too excited, but it made for nice conditions skinning up the mountain and skiing out. It was especially nice as it actively snowed on us when we took Neva up the mountain for the first time. While uphill skiing is permitted on designated ski routes throughout the day, dogs must be off the mountain during the hours of lift operations (9:00 am to 4:30 pm). Neva had to be on a leash because she’s still such a puppy. She wants to bound off to greet every new thing she sees: snowmobiles, other skiers, other dogs, ski resort staff, ski lifts, sticks, balls of snow, snowflakes. She’s so crazy with energy, but she did great. No one got hurt (#1 priority), Neva had a BLAST, Neva was exposed to resort skiing, and the pup was completely wiped out when we got home.

she is ready for adventure!

happy happy girl

When we are in Crested Butte, I usually bring tons of work and projects in the hopes of making headway while here. I discovered a while back that it becomes so overwhelming, I don’t manage to get much of anything finished. These days, I limit the projects that come with me and my productivity has improved considerably. This includes several baby quilts that are finally materializing under the needle of my sewing machine. With any luck, I will be sending flannel rag quilts to babies and children across the country just in time for summer – the hottest season of the year. Go me?!

my favorite stages: selecting fabrics and sewing the quilt together

the “rag” side of the quilt – the left was just cut, the right has been washed dozens of times

The snow did eventually arrive here in Crested Butte, and we enjoyed some powdery turns on runs and in stashes that the spring break crowds don’t know about. But we are on track for spring in a big way with sunshine, warm temperatures, and no snow for the next week. Don’t forget your sunblock.

jeremy rides a wave of powder

it’s best in the trees right now

ski the pow, take in the views, repeat

Last month I hosted a Thai dinner for our friends and spent some time researching appetizer recipes before I realized it was just too much for me to get done for the party. I never used to let people bring anything, as if it were some failure on my part as a host. Now, I accept that distribution of labor is not a bad thing and it allows me to enjoy my own dinner parties far more than in the past. So I asked Wendy to bring appetizers, which she did – and they were wonderful. But I still had this recipe for Thai firecracker shrimp I had bookmarked and decided to test drive it.

spring roll wrappers, pad thai sauce, thai basil, water, shrimp, peanuts, cornstarch

These are simple enough to make, but a tad messy, so have a damp towel nearby for wiping your fingertips clean. The rolling of the wrappers is probably the trickiest step that took me a few practice rolls before getting it right. You will want raw shrimp with tails on but shells off. One issue when shrimp cooks is that it curls up into a C-shape. That’s fine for some dishes, but we don’t want the shrimp to curl in this case as it might bust open the spring roll wrapper during frying. To prevent the curling, three scores across the shrimp along the inside of the “C” will do the trick. Marinating the shrimp takes all of three minutes or so. Quick.

score the shrimp

marinate all but the tails in pad thai sauce

Try not to buy any old spring roll wrappers. Most of the ones you find in western grocery stores are pretty thick and they blister when you fry them. The best kind for this appetizer is the super thin variety that most Asian grocers will carry. The brand I prefer is Wei-Chuan and it even says “super thin” on the package. It will give you a crispier result. Also, it’s totally okay to use regular basil if you can’t get your paws on Thai basil. I just prefer Thai basil. When you are ready to roll up your firecracker shrimp, strike a balance between rolling tight enough to minimize air pockets, but not rolling so tight that the wrapper busts open.

slice the wrappers on the diagonal

set a basil leaf, shrimp, and some peanuts on a wrapper triangle like so

fold the bottom corner up around the shrimp

roll the shrimp a turn and fold the left corner over snuggly

roll another turn and paint the edges of the remaining corner with cornstarch water

The wrappers dry out easily in the open air, so it helps to keep unused wrappers and the finished wrapped shrimp under plastic or damp towels while you finish rolling everything. At this point, you can lay the shrimp out on wax paper and freeze them, then bag them up and store in the freezer for later frying. I haven’t tried it, but Jaden says it works great. Otherwise, forge ahead! Fry the shrimp in batches because overcrowding the oil will cause a noticeable drop in the oil temperature. Drain the shrimp on paper towels or a cooling rack. If you are making a ton of these, you can keep the fried firecracker shrimp in a warm oven (250°F) until you are done frying and ready to serve.

rolled up

fried up

So, these Thai firecracker shrimp are super addictive. Served with some Thai sweet chili sauce on the side, you’ve basically made the party! The spring roll wrappers fry up so crisp and delicate that you will keep eating the shrimp just to experience that delightful crunch over and over again – except the filling is just as delicious as the shell is crunchy. Someone invite me to a party and I’ll bring these babies!

serve with thai sweet chili sauce

definitely need a bigger plate

they are small, so you can eat fifty without guilt

Thai Firecracker Shrimp
[print recipe]
from Steamy Kitchen

1 lb. or more raw, tail-on shrimp
3 tbsps prepared Pad Thai sauce
1 pkg frozen Asian spring roll wrappers, defrosted (I like Wei-Chuan brand)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch
20-25 leaves of fresh Thai (or regular) basil
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled, roasted peanuts, crushed or chopped
cooking oil for frying

Prepare the shrimp: If the shrimp are in shells, remove the shells except for the tails, and devein the outer vein. Pat the shrimp dry and make 3 shallow cuts about 1/4-inch apart across the inside curve of each shrimp. This prevents the shrimp from curling when you cook it. Arrange the shrimp in a radial pattern on a plate with the fattest part of the shrimp in the center and the tails on the outside. Spread the Pad Thai sauce evenly over the shrimp bodies, but avoid getting it on the tails. Let the shrimp marinate for a few minutes.

Roll: Cut the spring roll wrappers in half on the diagonal. Place a damp kitchen towel over the wrappers so they don’t dry out. Place the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and mix together. Set a single spring roll wrapper triangle on a work surface with the hypotenuse (the longest side) on the right and the the three corners pointing up, down, and to the left. Lay a single basil leaf on the bottom half of the triangle, just below the bisector (which runs from the center of the hypotenuse to the opposing corner) and about a half inch inside of the hypotenuse. Pick a shrimp up by the tail and gently shake off any excess sauce. Place the shrimp 2/3 of the way down the long edge, orthogonal (at 90 degrees) to the hypotenuse, with the body on the spring roll wrapper and the tail off the wrapper. Sprinkle a half teaspoon of peanuts over the shrimp.

Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper tightly up over the shrimp. Using your fingertip to hold the wrapper in place on the side of the shrimp farthest from you, roll the shrimp in the spring roll wrapper forward by a turn. The shrimp should be contained in the wrapper except for the tail. Fold the left corner of the wrapper over the shrimp so that there isn’t any excess wrapper beyond the fat end of the shrimp. We want to avoid air pockets or loose wrapping. Give the shrimp another roll forward. Use your finger to stir the cornstarch mixture (because it settles out after a minute) and wipe the edges of the remaining wrapper corner with the mixture. Roll the shrimp up completely. Place under plastic wrap or a damp cloth while you roll the rest of the shrimp.

Fry: Heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot until it reaches 375°F (use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature). Frying in batches, place the shrimp in the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes until the exterior is golden in color. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels or a cooling rack. How many you fry at a time will depend on the size of your frying vessel, but make sure not to overcrowd the pot. Serve hot with Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping. Makes about 2 dozen.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

fried shrimp wontons shrimp toast thai shrimp salad chinese honey walnut shrimp

13 nibbles at “boom!”

  1. says:

    These Thai Firecracker Shrimps look seriously delicious! I hope you will get more snow for more skiing and outdoor activities.

  2. Kristin says:

    And here you give me yet ANOTHER compelling argument to fry. These look amazing, and my family would love them! I have been wanting to do some sewing, but didn’t have a project. I am tempted by a rag quilt so I can practice being patient while I sew, and because colors! patterns!

  3. Kimberly says:

    A local place makes these, so i am very excited to try my hand at them at home!

    But mostly I just want to say that I have a 13 month old, and a homemade blanket is a lovely gift regardless of time of year or even the age of the child. Those are al adorable!

  4. Melissa says:

    I love your remarks about learning to let people contribute. I learned that lesson last year after a get-together in May that was not at all fun for me because I chose to take it all on myself. So when I had a party at my house in December for 12 people, I told everyone I would be making one large entree, as would the gal who was staying with me (fellow experienced/enthusiastic cook), and everyone else could bring sides, appetizers, desserts. And it was the BEST! I had such a wonderful evening. There is zero sense in doing it all myself. The food is important to me and always will be, but that is NOT the point of gatherings with those we love and it is rarely the thing people remember the most. I’m glad it didn’t take me too long to learn that. :)

  5. Rose says:

    I always look forward to a new Butter post. The combination of food yumminess and outstanding Colorado photography get me every time. If I weren’t traveling so darn much for work, I’d try the firecracker shrimp right away. The last few snow storms before the season changes will be bittersweet in a way. Although I know that Neva will enjoy a summer of hiking, biking, and swimming! Thanks for all you do, Jen!

  6. Alison says:

    It’s lovely to see your blankets, and I was amused by the triangles there matching up with the triangle wrappers.

  7. Chris says:

    These are truly fantastic! I made them awhile back after seeing them on the Steamy Kitchen site. Crispy, shrimpy, spicy goodness! Jaden’s son was preparing them for an event and he was super cute. You can not underestimate the importance of using the correct wrapper. I actually took a picture of the package before I went to the Asian grocery to make sure I bought the correct wrapper. Afterwards, I went back and bought four more for the freezer!

  8. Susanne says:

    Making these this weekend! They look totes amazeballs!

  9. Jan says:

    Oh, my!!! Yummy! What kind of Pad Thai sauce do you recommend? I’ve not used the prepared sauce so am clueless as to brand.

  10. Bror Niknejad says:

    I love seafood, shrimps in particular and I have a habit of ordering these at our local thai restaurant but I must say that yours looks like something coming out of a high-end ktichen. Really love the presentation, look really appealing and professional.

  11. Jen says:

    That looks so dreamy (the skiing mostly, but also the shrimp!). We spend a lot of time in CB in the summer but we’ve never been in the winter. One of these days …

  12. jenyu says:

    Miriam – thanks!

    Kristin – Oh I know… I think it’s because I’m a “crunchy” addict. I love crisp, crunchy textures and frying is one way to achieve it. Rag quilts are SUPER fun because of the fabrics and the simplicity (compared to other quilts). Go for it!

    Kimberly – that is so nice to know, thanks for the reminder. Sometimes I think I should give up because it wasn’t given “on time”, but then I think of how much I loved my own baby blanket growing up (even now, I still have it) and how I want these kids to have the same.

    Melissa – right?! I think you and I have followed some similar paths in life, similar lessons :) I feel as if we are both striving to live a more fulfilling and stress-free life while taking on new challenges. xo

    Rose – thank you! xoxo

    Alison – ha ha! I didn’t even notice that! :)

    Chris – I never would have considered making these except for the fact that Jaden’s video made it so much easier. Her kids are really cute (they were even cuter when they were little!).

    Susanne – hope you enjoyed them! yum :)

    Jan – So, I think Thai Kitchen makes one, but I couldn’t find it when I was shopping, so I went with the brand at the Asian grocery store and it tasted fine. Thai Kitchen is probably the one you’ll find in places like Whole Foods.

    Bror – you’re very kind. I ATE all of the ones that didn’t look good ;)

    Jen – Crested Butte is magical in summer, but winter is something else. Some people think it’s just about resort skiing, but there is much more to it. The CB Nordic center maintains tons of amazing and beautiful trails for classic and skate. Lots of backcountry skiing all around (a couple of huts, too) although you do need to be up on your avy skills because we get a lot of that activity around here. Also, there is uphill skiing on the mountain which is great in off hours with your pup. Fat biking, snow shoeing, and other fun things abound. It’s hard to decide which I love more – the town or the backcountry. Both are amazing.

  13. Carla says:

    Made these right after you published the recipe…froze half.
    Tonight fried the frozen ones straight from the freezer…just as good as the first time.

    Fantastic recipe!!

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