Honey Walnut Shrimp

If you know me, you know that Honey Walnut Shrimp is my favorite Cantonese banquet food of all time. This is the only dish I ask for every year on my birthday because it’s that good!

After learning how to make this at home, I’ve been able to enjoy this whenever I want! Not to toot my own horn, but I think my recipe tastes even better than the restaurants.

But of course, this recipe won’t be Honey Walnut Shrimp without the walnuts! Make sure to serve these with my Honey Glazed Walnut recipe. They’re light, crispy, and extra delicious with this dish.

So go ahead and give this recipe a try – I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

Shrimps vs Prawns

Shrimps and prawns are both crustaceans that look similar, but their size isn’t the only thing that makes them differ from each other. Although you won’t sense a significant difference in their taste, you may detect that prawns are slightly sweeter.

Both crustaceans have ten legs, but shrimps have claws on two pairs while prawns have claws on three pairs. The shells of their bodies are also built differently – where shrimps have a slight curve due to the second section of their shell overlapping their first and third sections. While prawns appear straighter because their shells overlap on their abdomen.

I haven’t tried swapping the shrimps out before, but if you’ve got your hands on some fresh prawns that are a great substitute that’s worth exploring! Whether you use shrimp or prawns, I’m sure it will still taste just as good.

Sweet and Crispy Honey Walnut Shrimp

Shrimp and walnut may not be the first two ingredients you’d think of pairing, but this dish has somehow captured the tastebuds of many people. Although you can’t find any clear information on its origins, Honey Walnut Shrimp became famous through a popular Chinese restaurant in the United States.

But thanks to this recipe, you won’t need to order takeout whenever you crave this delicious dish! Since most of the ingredients are pantry staples or accessible at your local supermarket, you can easily whip this recipe up in about 20 minutes. Granted, you’d have to make the honey-glazed walnuts ahead of time, but once you make a big batch you can prepare this dish as many times as you want!

How do I prepare Honey Walnut Shrimp?

Honey Walnut Shrimp is one of the most coveted dishes in restaurants that is surprisingly easy to make at home. If you want to recreate this tasty dish, follow the steps below:   

Step 1: Prepare the shrimp

Take the time to peel and devein the shrimp. With a knife, butterfly the shrimp by making a deep incision along its back. Be careful not to cut too deep or you’ll end up slicing the shrimp in half.

Step 2: Coat the shrimp

Place the butterflied shrimp into a bowl and add cornstarch. Make sure to coat the shrimp on each side, then set aside.

Step 3: Cook the broccoli

In a pot, bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and ¼ tsp of salt, and let it cook for 1-2 minutes or until your desired doneness. Transfer the broccoli to an ice bath to stop the cooking process, and set it aside.

Step 4: Fry the shrimp

In a wok or deep pot, preheat the oil to 350°F (175°C). Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp one at a time and fry in batches for 2-3 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Make sure not to overcrowd the pot so they don’t end up sticking together.

Once the shrimp are cooked, transfer them to a wire rack to drain the excess oil.

Step 5: Make the sauce

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, rice vinegar, honey, and salt. Stir them together to mix well. Then, add the shrimp and mix them together to coat them evenly.

Step 6: Serve!

Arrange the broccoli on a plate, followed by the shrimp. Don’t forget to sprinkle a generous amount of honey-glazed walnuts and serve!

Cooking tips for Honey Walnut Shrimp

Preparing the shrimp is the most tedious part of this recipe, but once you get that out of the way the rest will be easy. To make this recipe less of a hassle, here are a couple of tips:

  • Don’t skip the step of deveining the shrimp because that will remove its intestine, which gives it that gritty feeling when you bite into it.
  • Frying the shrimp in batches will prevent them from sticking and dropping the oil temperature too low.
  • If you want to adjust the sweetness of the sauce, you can add more or less honey and condensed milk depending on your taste preference.

Ingredient substitutions

Sweetened condensed milk: If you don’t have any sweetened condensed milk available at home or at your local market, you can replace it with a combination of heavy cream and white sugar. But if you want a dairy-free version, you can DIY it by simmering coconut milk and sugar until it’s reduced into a thicker consistency.

Honey: Good quality honey usually has more complex flavors than just sweetness. But if you can’t get your hands on a bottle of authentic honey, you can substitute it with maple syrup, molasses, or brown sugar.

Rice vinegar: Rice vinegar gives the dish a slightly acidic twist that will help balance out its flavors. If you can’t find one at the store, you can swap it with apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you devein shrimp easily?

Deveining shrimp isn’t a necessary step, but it can vastly improve its texture by getting rid of that gritty feeling whenever you bite into it. To devein a shrimp, you’ll need to peel the shell off of the shrimp first. With a paring knife, cut a shallow incision down the back of the shrimp. Using the tip of the knife, scoop out the black vein that’s located right under its surface. If you don’t see any intestines, then you can skip it.

What is an ice bath?

An ice bath is a method of cooling down food immediately after cooking. To do this, you’ll need a bowl that’s filled with cool water and ice, and transfer your food (in this case, broccoli) directly into the water.

This stops the carryover heat from overcooking the broccoli, so you can get the perfect consistency. An ice bath is often used for blanching vegetables, boiled eggs, or custards. 

Where to buy shrimp?

You can find shrimp at any grocery store or seafood market. You just need to make sure they’re good quality and fresh by inspecting their smell and appearance. Spoiled shrimp will smell strongly like ammonia, and their shell will feel slimy and soft to the touch. 

Be sure to ask the fishmonger or check the price labels for ‘PF’, which stands for previously frozen. This means that the shrimp was previously frozen then thawed and usually sold at a higher price. If that is the case, you’re better off buying frozen shrimp, which works just fine for this recipe!

Once you’ve got yourself a bag of shrimp, you can store them in the freezer in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

Can you make this recipe without condensed milk?

I personally think this recipe is better with sweetened condensed milk because it gives the dish a sweeter and creamier consistency. If you want to tone down the sweetness but retain its rich consistency, you can swap the condensed milk with plain yogurt. For a dairy-free version, you can also use thickened coconut milk by following the directions mentioned above in the ‘ingredient substitution’ section.

What other dishes would go well with Honey Walnut Shrimp?

I wouldn’t blame you if you’d want to pop all of these tasty shrimp all by itself. But if you want a complete meal, you can pair them with these dishes:

1. Fried rice – while I think a bowl of fresh jasmine rice is all you need, you can level it up with a delicious Char Siu Fried Rice

2. Cucumber salad – the flavors of this dish can balance out well with the blend of savory and sour tastes of cucumber salads like my Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad recipe or Chinese Cucumber Garlic recipe.

3. Vegetables – if you want a quick and easy vegetable dish to complement this dish, check out my vegetable recipes:

4. Tea Eggs – marinated tea eggs with a jammy yolk make the perfect addition to this meal! For some inspiration, check out my Chinese Tea Eggs recipe!

Next time you crave honey walnut shrimp but don’t want to spend the extra dollars to order it at a restaurant, give this recipe a try! I promise you’ll never go back 🙂

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 tsp salt
  • frying oil

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise Kewpie brand
  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Peel and devein your shrimp. Butterfly the shrimp by making a deep incision along the back of the shrimp.
  • Set the shrimp in a bowl. Add the cornstarch to coat well. Set aside.
  • Bring 4-5 cups of water to boil in a pot. Add the broccoli and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until your desired doneness. Transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  • In a deep pot, heat the frying oil to 350 degrees F. Add the shrimp one at a time and fry in batches for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure not to overcrowd the pot so they don't stick together.
  • Transfer to a wire rack until all the shrimp has been cooked.
  • Place the shrimp in a bowl and pour the sauce in. Mix well and coat evenly.
  • Serve with broccoli and enjoy!

Sauce

  • In a small bowl, combined the mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, rice vinegar, honey, and salt. Stir together to mix well.
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Cantonese, Chinese

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