Fantail Shrimp

Fantail shrimp is a delicious appetizer - the batter is golden and crispy while the shrimp is succulent and juicy. Fantail shrimp is a fast party favorite, and it will definitely impress your guests!

Golden fantail shrimp served around a bowl of sweet and sour sauce

Butterflied shrimp

Fantail shrimp is shrimp coated in batter and fried. The shrimp is butterflied, which means it is cut down the middle to create a “fan” effect. Once the shrimp is cut, there is more surface area which can be coated in batter and the shrimp also remains flat while being fried (instead of curling in the oil).

To make the fantail shrimp, the shrimp should be headless but otherwise intact. If you are making this recipe with fresh shrimp, deshell the shrimp completely and only leave the tail at the end.

The shrimp are butterflied, which means they are sliced through the middle of the underbelly from the top of the shrimp right down to the end of the tail. Remove the black “vein” that runs along the bottom of the shrimp. You can so do by just pulling it off and discarding it with the shell. Once you have sliced the shrimp, you should be able to lay the shrimp down flat with the shrimp spread open.

It is important to slice all the way down on the shrimp as if the shrimp isn’t sliced completely down to the tail, the shrimp will curl while being fried and the “fan” effect will be lost.

Fantail shrimp served and plated with a crispy batter

Batter

The batter for the fantail shrimp is a relatively simple with some added seasoning with garlic powder, salt and chili powder. The chili powder is completely optional, but we definitely recommend it. Before dipping the shrimp in the batter, we dip the shrimp in a coat of flour as this helps the batter stick better to the shrimp.

A key ingredient to the batter is carbonated water - it tremendously improves the overall dish. The sparkling water creates air pockets in the batter when frying which leads to a crispier, lighter texture. We highly recommend adding this bubbly water to your batter!

A closeup of the crispy, battered fantail shrimp

Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?

Yes! Of course, we recommend trying this out with fresh shrimp. However, frozen shrimp will work perfectly as well. If you’re using frozen shrimp, place them in hot/boiling water for 1-2 minutes so that they’ll thaw out, then you can follow the directions in the recipe as normal. It is a good idea to practice the butterflying technique with frozen shrimp (once thawed) since they will be a little bit cheaper.

Crispy batter and juicy shrimp being eaten

What can I serve with fantail shrimp?

The fantail shrimp are really the star of any appetizers served. We recommend a sauce to go with your shrimp, such as:
◦ Sweet and sour sauce
◦ Sweet chili sauce
◦ Bang bang sauce
◦ Mango chutney

Crispy fantail shrimp being dipped in sweet and sour sauce

Fantail Shrimp

Fantail shrimp is a delicious appetizer - the batter is golden and crispy while the shrimp is succulent and juicy. Fantail shrimp is a fast party favorite, and it will definitely impress your guests!

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Cuisine
Chinese

Servings
12

Calories
338 kcal

Prep time
15 minutes

Cook time
15 minutes

Total time
30 minutes

Ingredients

    Batter

    • ½ cup cornflour
    • ½ cup plain flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • ⅓ cup carbonated water
    • ½ cup milk
    • 1 egg

    Shrimp

    • 2 lb. shrimp
    • 1 cup plain flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 3-5 cups frying oil (neutral-flavored oil)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the shrimp by deshelling them, removing the head and slicing them through the middle of the underbelly from the top to the tail of the shrimp. Pat the shrimp dry once you are finished slicing it. The shrimp should be able to lie flat with the tail also spread out.
  2. Mix all the batter ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and set aside until frying begins.
  3. Place the 1 cup of plain flour in a bowl. Dip all the shrimp in the plain flour and make sure all the butterflied shrimp are thoroughly coated in flour.
  4. Add 3-5 cups of frying oil in a small pot and heat the oil to 330°F. Add enough oil to the pot so that the shrimp can be completely submerged in oil.
  5. Once the oil has come to heat, dip the floured shrimp in the batter and then carefully place the battered shrimp into the oil. Submerge the shrimp completely in oil for a few seconds.
  6. Fry the shrimp and keep checking both sides of the shrimp for roughly 3-5 minutes or until the batter has turned golden-brown. Place the shrimp on a kitchen paper towel once they’re fried to absorb any excess oil. Once all the shrimp have been fried, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and serve with sauce.

Notes

  • If you do not have a temperature thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, place the hob on medium-high heat. Test whether the oil has reached temperature by sprinkling a couple of drops of water into the oil. If the oil has reached a high temperature, it should sizzle and spit a little bit which means it’s ready to use for frying. You will need to keep a close eye on the shrimp to check whether you need to adjust the temperature of the oil.
  • Submerge the shrimp in the oil with a pair of tongs once you have begun frying. The shrimp should be completely submerged for a few seconds - this helps the shrimp retain a flat, fanned shape.

Nutrition

  • Calories 338 kcal | 
  • Carbohydrates 49.4 g | 
  • Protein 24.3 g | 
  • Fat 3.8 g | 
  • Saturated fat 1 g | 
  • Cholesterol 174 mg | 
  • Sodium 586 mg | 
  • Fiber 2 g | 
  • Sugar 0.8 g |