Friday, November 15, 2019
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Honey Walnut Shrimp

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Honey Walnut Shrimp is a popular Chinese dish. Crispy fried shrimp are coated in a creamy sweet sauce and topped with candied walnuts. This version tastes just as good as the restaurant or take-out version and is cheaper too. 

photo of chopsticks holding a piece of walnut shrimp

Honey Walnut Shrimp is one of my favorite dishes to order at a Chinese restaurant, but it’s something you can easily make at home.

Origin of Honey Walnut Shrimp

Honey Walnut Shrimp originated from Hong Kong. It is a classic Cantonese dish. Because of its immense popularity, the dish can be found at most Chinese restaurants, no matter what style of Chinese food they serve. The dish will often be made with large shrimp or prawns and is usually one of the dishes served during Chinese banquets.

In the US, the dish became more widely known after being introduced at Panda Express. While the Panda Express version isn’t quite the same as the original, it is pretty similar.

photo of a plate of walnut shrimp

Classic Version Versus Panda Express

The classic version features lightly battered shrimp. The shrimp is coated in egg and cornstarch, creating a feathery light crispy coating.

The Panda Express version uses a thicker batter, which creates a thick crunchy shell around the shrimp.

The version I’m sharing today is the classic version.

How to Make the Candied Walnuts

  • First, you make a simple syrup of water and sugar. The syrup is reduced down until it becomes thick and lightly golden in color.
  • The walnuts are then coated in the syrup.
  • The walnuts are then drained from the syrup and laid out to dry on a sheet of parchment paper. It only takes a few minutes for the syrup to dry and when it does, the walnuts will have a crunchy coating.

Honey Walnut Shrimp Sauce

After the shrimp are fried, they are tossed in a creamy sweet sauce that consists of mayonnaise, condensed milk and honey. The condensed milk and honey sweeten and thin out the mayonnaise so that the shrimp can easily be tossed and coated in the sauce.

Tips for Making Honey Walnut Shrimp

  • The syrup takes about 15 minutes to reduce, so I recommend letting it reduce while you are frying the shrimp to save time.
  • I also recommend that you make the syrup in a light-colored saucepan. The color change is very subtle and it will be very hard to see if you use a dark-colored saucepan.
  • If you wish for even crunchier walnuts, you can toast or fry them first before coating them in the syrup.
  • Because the shrimp batter is made of just cornstarch, don’t expect it to turn a golden brown. The batter will stay light in color but it should crisp up.
  • The dish is usually served with rice and sometimes also paired with broccoli.

overhead photo of a plate of walnut shrimp

If you’re looking for more Chinese restaurant favorites to try, I’ve also shared recipes for Chinese Pepper Steak, PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps, Crispy Orange Beef and Spicy Wontons.

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4

A homemade version of this popular Chinese dish. Crispy shrimp are coated in a sweet, creamy sauce and topped with candied walnuts.

Ingredients:

For the Walnuts

  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves measure a heaping 1/2 cup

For the Shrimp

  • 1 large egg whisked
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 lb raw shrimp deveined and shells removed (I used 21-25 count)
  • oil for frying
  • 2 green scallions thinly sliced

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp condensed milk
  • 1-2 tbsp honey

Directions:

  1. In a small light-colored saucepan, add water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and allow to continue to simmer until syrup turns thick and the color changes to a very light gold color. This should take about 15 minutes.

  2. Add in the walnuts and stir until they are evenly coated in the syrup. Using a slotted spoon, drain walnuts from the syrup and place onto a sheet of parchment paper to dry.

  3. While the syrup is reducing, you can start frying the shrimp. Add oil to pot being used for frying, adding about 1 1/2 inches deep of oil. Bring oil to medium heat.

  4. Set aside whisked egg in a small bowl and cornstarch in another bowl. Coat shrimp in egg and shake off excess egg coating. Then roll shrimp in cornstarch until completely coated. Add to hot oil and cook until shrimp curl up, the coating turns crispy and shrimp are cooked through. Do this in a few batches until all shrimp are fried. Place cooked shrimp on a paper towel-lined plate. Do not wait for the shrimp to turn golden brown. Since these shrimp are battered in cornstarch, the coating will stay pale.

  5. In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, condensed milk and honey. Whisk together sauce ingredients. Start with 1 tbsp of honey and add more if desired. Add shrimp to a large bowl and pour the sauce over shrimp. Gently toss shrimp in the sauce until all shrimp are coated. Place finished shrimp onto a large serving plate and top with candied walnuts. Garnish with scallions. Serve warm.

Notes:

  • Adapted from Damn Delicious
  • The syrup takes about 15 minutes to reduce, so to save time, I like to let it reduce while frying the shrimp. 
  • I also recommend that you make the syrup in a light-colored saucepan. The color change is very subtle and it will be very hard to see if you use a dark-colored saucepan.
  • How do you know when the syrup is ready? In addition, to the slight color change, the syrup will reduce to about 1/4 in volume when done. You will also notice that the bubbles will become less rapid and will break slower, indicating the liquid is thick.
  • At many Cantonese restaurants, the walnuts are first fried before they are coated, which makes the walnuts even crunchier. You can do this too if you don’t mind the extra step.
  • Because the batter is made of just cornstarch, it won’t turn golden brown and will instead remain quite pale. However it will crisp up.
  • Because it is difficult to determine the amount of oil absorbed by the shrimp and since not all of the batter is used, no nutrition information is provided for this recipe.

 

 

 



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