How to Stir Fry Shrimp

© Elke Dennis -, permission granted

Shrimp is easy to cook but it is also quite easy to botch, simply by trying to treat it as a meat - most poorly cooked shrimp is overdone. Once you learn how easy it is to cook shrimp the right way, as a seafood lover, you'll soon be searching for new ways to turn shrimp into a meal. Read on for how to stir fry shrimp and enjoy a delicious and healthy way to eat this coveted food.

Buy shrimp according to its intended usage, your budget and cooking schedule. Know that most shrimp has been frozen, whether it is sold that way or not, yet prices vary substantially. Buy raw shrimp with shells on for the most flavor, deveined or not according to preference. "Easy-peel" shrimp may save you time and minimize wasted shrimp. Opt for medium-sized shrimp (30 to 40 shrimp per pound) or larger for most stir-fry shrimp dishes.

Keep shrimp very cold or on ice until ready to use and do not refreeze. Frozen shrimp can be quick thawed in a colander by running cold water over the shrimp for several minutes, agitating occasionally. Do not soak. Treat raw shrimp as you would raw chicken, avoiding cross-contamination and washing hands and surfaces as needed. Stir fry shrimp in their shells for extra flavor, otherwise remove the shells and tails to accommodate common preferences.

Prepare or locate any seasoning or flavors you wish to add. Set these nearby for quick access. Some favorites include fresh garlic powder, fresh minced garlic, Old Bay season, Szechuan or Thai seasoning, curry, and chili powder. A few dashes of Nature's Seasons seasoning rounds out flavors nicely as well. Avoid over-seasoning the shrimp, save the bolder flavors for the vegetables or pasta.

Preheat two to three tablespoons of oil in your wok or skillet on medium or medium-high heat. Generally, use extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter, to avoid overpowering the shrimp. Mixing oil and butter or with flavored oils works well for stir fry shrimp and its sautéed dish relatives.

Place garlic and seasonings in the wok first, stir for a minute and then add 8 to 16 ounces of shrimp, depending on the size of your pan. Quickly spread the shrimp out into a single layer to avoid steaming.

Let shrimp sizzle a couple of seconds, then stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in a way that allows you to move the shrimp most efficiently, evenly and rapidly. Rotating your stirring direction helps. Let shrimp sit and sizzle a moment every 15 seconds as desired. Cook until shrimp are opaque, usually 2 minutes. Avoid overcooking.