Honey Walnut Shrimp is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve always wondered how to make it, but I never bothered to figure it out since the Chinese restaurant down the street makes an absolutely fabulous version. Per chance, I was watching the program on the Food Channel a few weeks back called Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and the host, Guy Fieri, visited a Chinese restaurant called Pagoda, in North Pole, Alaska (0f all places!). The chef demonstrated how he made some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, including the Honey Walnut Shrimp. (To see the show’s segment, click on the restaurant’s link below.) Seeing how good it looked, I decided to try it for myself. The only problem was that the chef was making a restaurant batch and did not specify quantities other than 1 gallon of mayonnaise, but at least I wrote down all the ingredients and the method. I just had to play around with the amounts until I came up with the ratio I liked. That’s what is great about this recipe. It can be altered, even at the last minute, to suit your taste. Since the sauce is prepared ahead of time and incorporated into the shrimp and walnuts right before serving, you can adjust it to your liking. I must have tried two or three shrimp with the sauce, adjusting it every time until I got the taste I was after.
So is it the walnut or the shrimp that is “honeyed”? I prefer to add the honey to the walnuts, as the title implies, and not in the mayonnaise sauce for the shrimp. Many recipes I’ve seen since add the honey to the sauce, and not the walnuts. You decide!
Honey Walnut Shrimp
Yields 2-3 servings
1 cup water
2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 to 3 tablespoons condensed milk, to taste
1/2 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste
Oil for deep frying
Combine the water, sugar, honey, and walnuts in a small pan, over medium heat, until the mixture caramelizes. Remove from heat and spread onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Once cooled, deep fry walnuts until golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
To make the sauce, combine the mayonnaise, condensed milk, half and half, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Adjust to taste by adding more condensed milk, lemon juice, and/or salt. Set aside.
Boil the shrimp for 10 seconds and drain. This step should help the cornstarch adhere much better to the shrimp. Dredge in cornstarch that has been well-seasoned with salt and pepper, making sure each shrimp is adequately coated. Deep fry until shrimp turns pink, about 1-2 minutes.
In a bowl, place 2-3 tablespoons of sauce and add the shrimp and walnuts and mix well and arrange in a serving dish.
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