This Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry Recipe will teach you how to get the perfect crunchy, snappy shrimp texture, and how to properly stir-fry shrimp so it is never overcooked.
How to cook shrimp for that bursty, bouncy bite
Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry recipe only takes a couple of minutes, and to get the best possible texture for shrimp, quickly brine the raw shrimp for a just a couple of minutes.
Perfectly cooked shrimp should have a bursty, bouncy bite.
Brine the peeled shrimp in 1 tsp kosher salt, 3 cups water and 1 cup ice.
Drain, pat very dry on paper towels.
Marinate shrimp in pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Get your wok or pan super-hot. You want the shrimp to instantly sizzle upon contact. Keep shrimp in one layer, let fry untouched 1 minute to get nice sear and carmelization. Don’t touch it! Leave it alone.
Flip and let the other side fry for an additional 1 minute. Remove shrimp, keeping as much oil in wok as possible and continue with stirfry. You’ll add the shrimp back in later.
How to deep fry basil for Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry
- Start with about 1 loosely packed cup of basil leaves. After washing your basil, run them through your salad spinner to fling some of the surface water off. Then blot them on layers of paper towels to further dry the leaves. This is an important step, as water droplets + hot oil will make the oil splatter.
- In a wok, deep fryer, or whatever cooking vessel you use (the smaller diameter of pot you use, the less oil you’ll need but then you can only do a few leaves at a time) heat about 2 inches of cooking oil (peanut/canola/veg) to 375F.
- Have a splatter screen, tongs and a rack for draining ready. Fair warning – the oil will splatter, so please be careful! Using tongs, carefully add a few basil leaves to the oil. They should crisp up in about 10 seconds. Sccop ’em up and let drain.
- The leftover oil is now beautifully infused with basil! Strain any basil bits out, let cool and store. You can use this oil for cooking.
Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry with Crispy Basil
- 1/2 pound shrimp shelled, deveined
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (kosher or sea salt) divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil like canola, peanut, vegetable
- 1 fresh chili pepper sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups sliced zucchini about 2 medium
For the Stir Fry Sauce
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
For the Crispy Basil
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil like canola, peanut or vegetable
- Fill a medium bowl with the just 1 teaspoon of salt, ice and water. Add the shrimp and let soak for 15 minutes. While brining, proceed to next step to make crispy basil.
- To make the crispy basil: Wash and pat very dry the basil leaves. The leaves MUST be very dry, or the oil will splatter. Add 4 tablespoons cooking oil to the wok or a small saute pan. When the oil is hot and shimmering (but not smoking quite yet), add in a single basil leaf to test. Deep fry the basil leaves in batches, and letting them cool on a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- Back to the brining shrimp…. Drain and pat very dry on paper towels. Empty the bowl, wipe the bowl dry and return the shrimp, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, sesame oil and cornstarch. Stir to coat the shrimp.
- Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the cooking oil, swirling to coat the wok. Add the shrimp and immediately give each shrimp its own space on the wok, so that they aren't touching. Let fry, untouched for 1 minute. Flip shrimp and let fry for an additional minute, or just cooked through. Remove from wok, leaving as much oil in wok as possible.
- You should still have 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in the wok. If not, add more cooking oil. Return the heat to medium-high and let the oil heat up. Add in the chili pepper and garlic and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the zucchini slices and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, tossing every 15 seconds, until zucchini is just barely soft in the middle but still firm on the outer edge.
- Pour in the stir fry sauce to the wok. Add back into wok the cooked shrimp. Toss everything together to allow the sauce to coat the shrimp and the zucchini. Top the dish with crispy basil.
hello, thank u so much for the bouncy shrimp tip! but would like to know, how long to brine the shrimps and marinade? many thankss!
Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words
in your post seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.
I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon.
Made this for my mom tonight and she LOVED it. I didn’t want to bother with the fried basil so I sliced it up fresh and stirred it in at the end. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. It was SUPER YUMMY!
wow! another reason to thank god that i’m not allergic to crustaceans! 8)
thanks for the great tips! how long should they stay in the brining solution?
i usually just boil my shrimps/prawns in 7up (lucky to get them swimming fresh) and have them with plain rice, mandatory dipping sauce of kalamansi (small citrus), fish sauce and labuyo peppers. hehe.. i know, it’s similar to a deconstructed fra diavollo given a pinoy twist but, that’s how i had it growing up.
i’d like to learn more about the different chinese regional cuisines, would you guys have any suggestions for reading material? thanks! most especially to you jaden!
OMG wonderful!!! Yummylicious!!! I just had my lunch and now I’m hungry again … 🙁
Thank you so much for the tips! Is true that’s the way to make seafood juicy yet springy and crunchy specially for prawns. My mom always said’ ” Khew”. For me, it has to bounce when I accidently dropped the prawn on the floor. Just like fishballs, it has to be ‘khew’ LOL No bounce, No fishball !
This dish looks so fresh and beautiful! Thanks for the tip on cooked shrimp. I like to use deep-fried Thai basil on my fish cake–never though about adding some salt on it though. Thanks, Jason–I might try it next time. However, I don’t think basil has a bland taste like spinach. They have a different taste in my opinion. 🙂
I love the idea of this plate. Very nice textures, and a nice contrast in textures as well. The only thing I have to add is perhaps to salt the basil leaves AS SOON as they come out of the oil. I have deep fried a lot of basil in my time, and I find that a tiny bit of salt also brings out a subtle flavor from the basil. Otherwise, you run the risk of serving something that tastes like bland fried spinach.
As usual the picture is gorgeous. I really need to learn about your settings, camera, etc. I would almost give up my chef knife to learn how to do that. 😉
This looks absolutely fabulous!!!
Mary, mom to many
The crispy basil leaves is a brilliant idea. I got to try this dish some time since I absolutely adore anything with prawns. *Drool*
Btw, I have an award for you over at my blog. Don’t know whether you’re into that sort of thing, but I just want to acknowledge a brilliant blog that I love reading. Cheers!
Oh my… those shrimps look soooo yummy… I should definitely try this recipe… thanks for sharing… btw, super belated happy birthday 🙂
Yummy Yummy Yummy! Yet Another Fabulous Dish! BTW I gave you a tree of happiness award. Please check out my website for more details. Your Fab!
Did anyone say it’s a mouthful of “explosion” that only the freshest shrimp can give you? How you got those basil leaves to look like that is just another awesome word in itself!
Wonderful post! Great tips and pictures on how to cook perfect shrimp. The basil sounds amazing I bet the infused oil cooks lovely food. Great recipe my hubby would adore this.
yum yum! hailing from a shrimping island where you could still get shrimp from the boats that had never been frozen, my family prided themselves on the perfectly cooked shrimp. I just love all of the descriptions and agree that the shrimp should feel swollen and ready to burst in your mouth. BTW, I fry spinach leaves the same way as you fry the basil- love the texture. Can’t wait to try this one!
“Bubble-crunchy” – sounds like a good description of me after a night of too many margaritas!
Loving the glassine quality of the fried basil.
A beautiful picture! That dish looks terribly scrumptious and tasty!
the crispy basil leaves are gorgeous … what a great way to top a delicious shrimp stir fry
Oooo. delicious prawns and the deep fried basil still look green!
It is interesting how people make sure their prawns are bursty and bouncy (or QQ haha).
Here’s what some people told me on my blog before. Some say:
– corn starch solution. soak them for a while and even not so fresh prawns taste crunchy. (but prawn sweetness might be lost)
– sugar solution. someone people soak them for a while before cooking.
– constantly rinsing in clear water.
– alkali water or bicarbonate of soda ‘treatment’
– egg white wash before cooking
Now I know salt water does it too! There’s so many ways to do something right? So fun!
I just tried it tonight and it is delicious!!! yummm…
Mmm. I love deep-fried basil! My favourite dish is a Chiu-Chow specialty that incorporates the deep-fried basil in a savoury, spicy, chicken dish. Forgot what it’s called, but we always manage to order it when we go to a Chiu Chow restaurant. I think your dish is a wonderful way to highlight the different textures of the succulently crunchy prawns and the crispy basil leaves!
I like the simplicity of the ingredients in this stirfry! Nicely done.
Brining sounds wonderful… I might try that with frozen shrimp (thawed, of course) I can’t get fresh, raw shrimp. I love the zucchini, and fried basil with it!
Hope your auspicious birthday was wonderful!
Love the recipe and not a fan of basil but with your amazing picture I’m begining to see basil in a different way!
Brining shrimp and frying basil. Truly an educational post for me.
Wonderful!! What a good tip!! Looking forward to hving that at home now!
Wow! that’s a great tip on getting bursty bouncy shrimp. Great tip for a new cook like me. Thanks.
Fried basil sounds great!! We have ALOT of basil in the garden and are looking for new and interesting things to do with it. We are kind of pestoed out for now and are freezing small batches of it.
Great tips on bringing the shrimp and frying the basil! The stir fry looks delicious…crisp and fresh!
Perfectly cooked shrimp pops in my mouth 🙂
Just a follow up message to let you know that I provided a link to your great recipe on my blog post dated 08/13/08.
Lydia – yes it does…which is why I only add a pinch for the marinade…and add the soy to toss w/ zucchini BEFORE I add in the shrimp. But the ice water really does make for better texture, so even if you use half the salt with the ice water it still works well.
Brining shrimp — I’m definitely going to try this. But shrimp are so naturally salty; does the brining add more salty flavor?
I think we should just call delicious food attribute w/o a Chinese equivalent “Jaden-y” or “Steamy Kitchen-y.”
Im loving the fried basil.
I’ve never brined shrimp or any meat for that matter. How does it work to make the shrimp better. I endeavour to not overcook shrimp to get the right texture.
Crispy basil – yes, yes, yes! Love it! Prawns are best on the BBQ – but an Aussie would say that! 😉
Ahh, kind of like salting cucumbers to get them crispier, too. Great tip!
Love the bursty bouncy definition! I want some bursty bouncy shrimp! I’ve never brined shrimp before, but since I love what brining brings to chix and pork, you can bet I’ll be brining my shrimp. I love that light sauce, too. I happen to have all the ingredients for this in my fridge right now. And it’s lunchtime … 🙂
Hmm, no one’s ever taught me to brine shrimp until Jaden 🙂 Great post full of many things I love in life – basil, shrimp & zucchini.
My grandma taught me to brine my shrimp too. She also taught me to use a toothpick to devein it if I wanted to leave it whole, instead of splitting it with a knife and all that.