"Skip the takeout and make honey walnut shrimp at home. Light tempura, tender shrimp, candied walnuts, all covered in a sweetly tart sauce."
Oh, shrimp, how I adore thee. I’d count the ways, but that would take for-ev-ver and quite frankly I’ve got other things to do this week (read: continue X-Files marathon). Shrimp has been my longest food obsession by far, dating all the back when I was little and probably the most infuriatingly picky eater that ever turned her nose up at a steak.
Or pretty much anything that wasn’t shrimp.
I should really make a habit of telling my mother how awesome she is more often, because it was only her endless patience (and a fondness of Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits) that allowed me and my crustacean infatuation to live to adulthood. Seafood isn’t cheap, and having a child who would gladly live off of shrimp alone is like suffering a financial hardship. It’s one of those things you can’t fully appreciate until you start paying for your own food bills, so despite my love for all things seafood, the slightly older
and cheaper me tries to keep by shrimp consumption to a minimum.
And by “minimum” I mean once a week, and whenever possible, I try to make shrimp dishes at home in order to save the extra few bucks.
That’s where this recipe for honey walnut shrimp comes in.
For as much as I claim to be a shrimp enthusiast, I didn’t even know honey walnut shrimp existed until Panda Express added it to their lineup a few years back.
I know, that’s so shameful, but what can I say?
A few years ago I wasn’t really cooking at home, so I was completely at the mercy of whatever the local restaurants decided to put on their menu.
And for reasons that remain a mystery to me, our favorite Chinese takeout joint didn’t (and still doesn’t) carry honey walnut shrimp.
I know, it’s absolute craziness.
How can they not be cooking this up? They’d make so much more money… off of me!
What I love about making honey walnut shrimp at home is that you have complete control over how sweet (or not) you make the sauce. I’ve gone out of my way to hunt down other restaurants that serve this dish, and so far there’s only one thing remains the same: everyone does it differently. Some use a basic tempura batter (basically flour and cornstarch) while other use tempura flakes. Some have a tartly sweet sauce while others have a honey sweet sauce.
No two restaurants make it the same way.
As for this specific recipe? It reminds me more of Panda Express’ version, although I did use tempura flakes. I happen to like this type of batter better, but if you’d rather have a smooth tempura finish, you can make your own tempura batter using this recipe.
No matter which way you go with the tempura, this is a tasty (and surprisingly easy) recipe for your weekday shrimp fix – all without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
Honey Walnut Shrimp
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 1/2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- 2 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 cups oil or however much you need so the oil is 1 inch deep
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp water very cold (like ice water)
- 1 cup tempura
For the Candied Walnuts
- Cover a large baking sheet or plate with parchment paper and place nearby.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add walnuts to pan and cook them in the butter, stirring frequently, until the liquid in the butter has been mostly cooked away, about 5-8 minutes. Remove walnuts from pan and place on a plate.
- Wipe the pan clean, then return to burner. Over medium heat, add water and brown sugar, mixing the two ingredients together. Add walnuts back to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until brown sugar mixture starts to thicken and sticks to walnuts, about another 5-8 minutes. Remove walnuts from pan and place on parchment paper, spacing them out so they don't stick together. Set aside to cool.
For the Tempura Shrimp
- In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and lemon juice until smooth. Taste test the sauce and adjust to your liking - for a sweeter sauce, add more honey. For a milder sauce, add more mayonnaise. Once sauce is finished, set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan, add oil and warm over medium high heat.
- While oil heats, prepare three bowls: one for flour, one for eggs + cold water, and another for tempura. Place a plate nearby and cover it with a papertowl.
- When ready to fry, work shrimp in mangeable batches (enough so that they can comfortably cover the oil in the pan in a single layer). Coat shrimp in flour, then egg mixture, then press into tempura. Add shrimp to hot oil and cook until coating is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes. Set cooked shrimp on the paper towel lined plate.
Putting It All Together
- In a large bowl, add shrimp and walnuts. Pour sauce in bowl and gently toss to coat. Turning the shrimp too hard or too fast may make the tempura fall off, so go slowly.
- Serve honey walnut shrimp immediatley.