Ron and I have been visiting Mexico every year for several years now. One of the highlights for me is the fresh fish at Cabo San Lucas, where we have stayed the last four years. I can eat shrimp every day if I want, and just about any other kind of fish fresh from the waters of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean.
Well, we must have both been longing to return to Cabo this weekend, because I was gung ho for a Mexican Martini, and Ron wanted to make deep fried shrimp.
We haven’t had the deep fryer out for a while, so we decided it was time to treat ourselves. We ended up putting together a meal of tempura shrimp, homemade French fries…and when there was leftover batter, we sliced up a big onion and made a few onion rings as well. Add to that a tasty Asian inspired coleslaw and it was almost like we were on the deck overlooking Los Arcos and the beautiful water of the Sea of Cortez!
We really enjoyed this batch because the batter was light and tasty. The end result was not thick, over-battered and greasy. The shrimp could be fried in a cast iron pan filled with oil, if you don’t have a deep fryer. We started with fresh canola oil, and I figure if you let the food drain, and place it on some paper towels before eating, it isn’t really that unhealthy – remembering this is a not-too-often treat.
OK, so here’s how it came together. First, scrub some potatoes and cut them into fries. I used my handy dandy Pampered Chef fry cutter, which makes slicing the potatoes so easy. I don’t even peel the potatoes. Soak your potatoes in cold water for as long as possible (even a few hours), as this pulls the starch out and means crispy fries instead of soggy potatoes. When you are ready, drain and blot the potatoes to dry them.
Handy dandy Pampered Chef fry cutter
We got frozen, uncooked shrimp, thawed them in cold water, then blotted them dry, placed them on a platter, and seasoned them. By “we” I actually mean Ron, because he did most of the cooking for this meal. We have grown to like Old Bay blackened seasoning for our fish and seafood, as it has a great flavour and lower sodium than regular Old Bay.
Shrimp, batter and fryer ready to go
The onions were sliced last minute and thrown in the batter once everything else was cooked. They did not take long at all to cook.
Once everything is prepared, start cooking. Ron did the fries first, and then put them in a warm oven while the shrimp cooked.
To get the fries right, heat the oil to 300 degrees, and cook the potatoes the first time for 3-5 minutes. You don’t need to brown them, you are just softening them. Cook them in batches and make sure the basket isn’t too full. Once they are all done, turn the oil up to 400 degrees, and cook them all again, in batches. This time cook them until they are browned. This is the secret to crispy, browned fries. Yum.
Next, the shrimp. See below for the beer batter we made, adapting an online recipe to make our own beer batter. Once the potatoes were all cooked, the oil was heated to 375. When it was ready, the next step was key to making sure the shrimp didn’t lose all their batter and stick together – put the basket down in the oil. Don’t put your battered shrimp (or any fish or other battered food) into the basket and lower the basket. Put the basket in the oil and drop the food into the hot oil.
Patience is key!
So Ron dipped the shrimp, one at a time, into the batter. He held them by the tail and did not batter the tail. He then dropped them into the oil, cooking them in batches of about six so they didn’t stick together.
Ron carefully placing the shrimp in the oil
We put them on a wire rack into a warm oven until they were all done. The onions were done last, and we sat down to a delicious homemade meal. I am not a huge fan of deep fried food, especially thick and greasy batter, so this was perfect. I loved it.
Onions soaking in the batter
My Asian inspired coleslaw started with store-bought coleslaw, to which I added walnuts, pumpkin seeds, red peppers and green onions, and topped with my ginger soy dressing (salad dressing blog to come).
As we were cooking, we realized we didn’t have any sauce for the shrimp, so I whipped up a homemade seafood sauce with ketchup, Huy Fong chili garlic sauce, and horseradish…a great compliment to the shrimp.
Try the beer batter tempura on anything, and let me know what you think!
Beer batter tempura
Adapted from original at allrecipes.com
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup beer (or beer and water combo)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
- vegetable oil for frying
1. Whisk flour, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Make a depression in the centre of the flour. Stir in the beer/water and egg yolk. Mix just until moistened; batter will be lumpy. Stir in egg whites.
2. One at a time, dip shrimp into the batter to coat. Do not batter tails. Carefully place a few shrimp at a time into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Note: This batter can be used for other types of fish, onions, and likely anything else you want to try in the deep fryer!