Salt and Pepper Shrimp
1 pound large shrimp in their shells (25)
6 cups vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Special equipment: a deep-fat thermometer
Cut each shrimp shell lengthwise along back with scissors, leaving last segment intact, then devein shrimp, leaving shell in place. Cut off feathery legs and sharp pointed section of shell above soft tail fins. Rinse shrimp and dry thoroughly.
Heat oil in a wok or deep heavy pot over high heat until it registers 400 degrees F on deep-fat thermometer. Deep-fry shrimp in 4 batches until shells bubble and shrimp are bright pink, 45 to 60 seconds (they will be slightly undercooked), returning oil to 400 degrees F between batches. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Carefully pour oil into a heatproof bowl (to cool before discarding), then wipe wok clean with paper towels.
Stir together salt, pepper, and five-spice powder.
Heat wok or a heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then add deep-fried shrimp and spice mix and stir-fry 10 seconds.
NOTE: Sichuan pepper would normally be used in this dish, but the spice is currently banned by the USDA for import since it may carry a harmful citrus canker.
Makes 6 (hors d’oeuvre) servings.