Fried shrimp are shrimp that have been cooked by submerging them in hot oil. Any number of oils can be used for frying shrimp or other seafoods, but most cooks and restaurants use some type of vegetable oil. Sunflower, corn, soybean, and peanut oil are the most common, but others may be used. Fried shrimp are always peeled, although the tail section may be left on. They are then coated in a batter or breading before frying, which keeps the shrimp from becoming dried out and tough while providing a crispy and tasty outer coating.
Shrimp are one of the most popular of all seafoods, and frying them is a common method of preparation. Cuisines all over the world use shrimp and nearly all of them have one or more traditional methods for frying them. In Japan, shrimp are often fried in tempura batter, a method brought by Portuguese traders during the Age of Sail. In North America, shrimp are often breaded or dipped in a beer batter for frying.
Breading is a technique by which the shrimp are coated with a mostly dry mixture of breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, corn meal, or a mixture of one or more of these ingredients and flour. Some cooks even make breading from shredded coconut. Seasonings such as salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic, among others, may be included in the breading. The shrimp may be dipped in beaten egg or milk before being rolled in the breading to help the breading stick.
The other way fried shrimp are often prepared is by battering. With battering, the shrimp are often dipped in flour or corn starch first and then dipped in batter. The batter is a wet mixture, thick enough to stick to the shrimp and hold together long enough to be dropped into the hot oil, but thin enough to pour from a spoon. The batter will often contain flour, egg, and seasonings. The liquid component may be water, milk or beer.
Once the shrimp has been coated in either breading or batter, it is then cooked in hot oil, a process known as frying. Oil for making fried shrimp should be heated to approximately 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). The shrimp is cooked for one to two minutes or until the outer coating is a golden brown color.