Friday, September 17, 2010

Honey Walnut Shrimp

A totally decadent Chinese dish which, I believe, is a Cantonese creation from Hong Kong, although I'm still researching to confirm its exact origins. My first taste of this unctuous concoction was almost 20 years ago at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae, a Northern California restaurant noted for its dim sum and other staples of Cantonese cuisine. They call it 'Walnut Prawns' on their menu, but it's also known as 'Honey Walnut Shrimp.'

I adapted this recipe from Bee Yinn Low's Easy Chinese Recipes (basically doubling her sauce recipe), and it's simply scrumptious!

12 oz. medium shelled and deveined shrimp 
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
3-4 cup oil for frying
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

6 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. lemon juice

Candied Walnuts:
1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

1. First prep the shrimp according to this technique, which will give it a "bouncy" and crisp texture:

2. Season the shrimp with 1/4 tsp. of salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Stir together sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. For the candied walnuts: rinse the walnuts under cold water & drain. Combine the water, sugar and walnuts in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Turn off heat and let the walnuts sit in the sugar mixture for about 10 minutes. Pour onto waxed or parchment paper and set aside. 

5. Heat oil in wok or pan over medium high heat. Coat shrimp thoroughly in the beaten egg, then in the cornstarch and fry until crisp (approx. 2-3 min). Remove shrimp from wok and drain on paper towels. 

6. Place shrimp in a bowl & toss with the mayonnaise sauce. 

7. Spoon shrimp mixture on top of shredded lettuce on a serving platter and garnish with the candied walnuts on the side. Serve and enjoy immediately, preferably with some hot white rice. This stuff is not like pizza and will not taste better the next day as the crispy coating on the shrimp will have become soggy.

Season the prepared shrimp with 1/4 tsp. of salt and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.

Sauce ingredients.

Stir sauce ingredients together in small bowl. Set aside.

Rinse walnut or pecan halves under cold water. Drain & set aside.

Combine walnuts with water and sugar and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens to a glaze-like consistency.

After 10 minutes, pour walnuts onto parchment or waxed paper and set aside.

Toss shrimp first in the beaten egg and then in cornstarch and coat well.

Fry shrimp in hot oil 2-3 minutes until crisped and cooked through.

Remove shrimp to plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels.

Place shrimp back in bowl and toss with mayonnaise sauce.

Plate shrimp over shredded Iceberg lettuce and garnish with candied walnuts. Serve with white rice.


  1. At the Tropical Chinese Restaurant in Miami, Florida, I have had these shrimp with pineapple chunks, candied walnuts, straw mushrooms, bok choy, a little ginger and some carrot slices with the same mayo-condensed milk sauce, covered with a deep fried potato basket. They call it Sweet and Sour Prawns In A Basket, however there is no sour in this dish. The shrimp are divine in this sauce. It is no longer on their menu, but they will still make it if you ask for it.

  2. HI, I'm so glad I found this recipe for my long-last favorite dish from my favorite Hakka restaurant, Ton Kiang on Geary in SF. I followed the instructions for prepping the shrimp first with baking soda and then with cornstarch and egg whites. They are in the fridge chilling! Now I've come back to the recipe, which says to RINSE the shrimp and dredge them in cornstarch .... I'm thinking that was part of the 2010 recipe, but that the cornstarch-egg white coating is the only coating it needs before frying .... Perhaps that's obvious but I needed to be sure. Thanks so much! --Francey

  3. Hi Francey! My bad...I reread the recipe and it does seem confusing because I didn't delete part of an older version of this post (I just did that now). Do NOT rinse the shrimp (marinated in cornstarch & egg white) that's been chilling in your fridge. Just before frying, dredge the marinated shrimp in a very light coating of cornstarch so that they will come out crispy. Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the recipe! Best, Arleen

  4. OMG I made it last night and my husband and son said it was BETTER than our fav local Chinese restaurant! I of course didn't rinse the shrimp but didn't add more cornstarch either. I'll do so next time, which will be soon. Thanks so much!

    1. Awesome! So glad you and your family enjoyed the recipe, Francey!