Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry with Crispy Basil Recipe
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.
- 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
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- 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.