almost famous: bonefish grill’s bang bang shrimp

Back in 2007, when Nate and I first moved to VA, we barely knew the area and would spend Friday nights driving around, looking for some place good to eat. We had a few false starts at places that were really just glorified Ruby Tuesday’s, and we quickly started getting discouraged — wasn’t there any place fun and delicious to eat? (Note: these were the days before we realized all that Old Town and our 6-mile proximity to DC had to offer.)

It was on one of those fateful evenings that Nate and I found Bonefish Grill. As huge seafood fans, we were thrilled by the prospect of a yummy seafood joint near our house.

We were impressed by the menu, and intrigued by an appetizer called Bang Bang Shrimp. “Tender, crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce,” is what the menu promised, and boy did it deliver. In fact, I’d argue it’s the best thing BFG (no, not the Big Friendly Giant) has to offer (although the rest of their food is really great, too).

Fast forward to last week, when I was flipping through the pages of my Food Network Magazine and found “Almost Famous Spicy Fried Shrimp” — a recipe that promised to taste just like Bang Bang Shrimp. Could it be that I could have Bang Bang Shrimp in the comfort of my own house? I had to try.

I don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, but I didn’t let that stop me from trying this recipe. After breading the shrimp, I put just one shrimp in the hot oil to test the heat. I kept an eye on the shrimp as they were frying to make sure their breading didn’t burn. After frying, I tossed the shrimp with the amazing, spicy sauce, and served them over a few leaves of lettuce. And what did we think?

Oh, friends, this recipe is dead on. A total ringer. Absolutely delicious. Definitely almost-famous.

Almost-Famous Spicy Fried Shrimp

FOR THE SAUCE
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (such as sambal oelek)
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt

FOR THE SHRIMP
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 and 1/4 pounds small shrimp, peeled and deveined
Bibb lettuce leaves, for serving
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

1. Make the sauce: Mix the mayonnaise, chili sauce, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon water in a large bowel; set aside.
2. Prepare the shrimp: Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl. Whisk the flour, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in another shallow bowl.
3. Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, dip in the beaten eggs, then return to the flour mixture, turning to form a thick crust. Fry the shrimp in the hot oil until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.
4. Toss the shrimp with the prepared sauce. Arrange the lettuce in a shallow serving bowl or on individual plates. Top with the shrimp and garnish with scallions.

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