What to make when you need a quick dinner? That's what I was wondering when I remembered about Vietnamese Caramelized Shrimp, a stir-fry with a few tablespoons of a caramel sauce in the mix. Don't be alarmed, this isn't a sweet entree; the caramel adds depth to the flavor and the sweet is offset by chilies, lime juice, and cilantro. All the flavors come together in the most wonderful way.
I still wanted something a little easier, as my caramel skills aren't quite all there. I found this version where you add the water and sugar to the shrimp and let it bubble away for a while. While probably not the exact same, it cut down on prep time and still resulted in what tasted like take out, but better.
A few tips about this recipe: You should really consider making at least half more than what you think you need, possibly just double it (or have all ingredients assembled and make the second batch right after the first). This is so good that you'll want more.
I stir-fried the onions with the garlic.
Heat a platter up in the oven so the shrimp won't cool down too quickly. Alternatively, turn the oven on to low and place the plates in the oven to warm.
Diana's Vietnamese Caramel Shrimp
Recipe from Washingtonpost.com
1 to 1 1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I did not do that)
2 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (I used 1/8 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water, or more as necessary
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced (I used one seeded an deveined jalapeno)
Freshly ground black pepper (I used white pepper)
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 to 5 sprigs cilantro, for garnish, optional
- In a large bowl, combine the shrimp with the oyster-flavored sauce, salt, cayenne pepper and flour. Set aside to marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the shrimp to the skillet or wok, discarding any marinade.
- Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn pink. Add the water and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the chili pepper and black pepper to taste. Squeeze the lime juice over the top of the shrimp and transfer the mixture to a platter.
- Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately.