Life as a military spouse has taught me some important lessons. The most important? One must always be creative.
Whether it’s arranging a bedroom closet in Europe, or figuring out the best way to ship my homemade pico de gallo to my husband in South Korea, I have learned how to get what I need (or want) when it’s not always available.
The double-edged sword of life as a military spouse is that you can travel the world, but you’re away from the comforts of home. We were living in Germany when I fell in love with Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp®.
I first tried it on a visit back to the States, but guess what Germany doesn’t have? You guessed it!
I craved that shrimp the most when I was pregnant with our twins, so I put on my culinary cape and set about creating my version of the dish.
What Is Bang Bang Shrimp?
The first star of this dish is the plump, crispy shrimp. For these tacos, I like to use extra-large shrimp, sometimes labeled as “26-30,” which refers to the number of shrimp in a pound. To make this easy and time-friendly, I buy them peeled and deveined with tails removed. Fiddling with shrimp tails gets in the way when you’re trying to enjoy these tasty tacos.
The other star of this recipe is the mildly spicy mayonnaise-based sauce—the bang in the bang bang, I’d call it. The crispy shrimp is tossed in this creamy sauce just before serving. You can adjust the heat by reducing (or increasing!) the amount of sriracha in the mixture.
How to Get Extra-Crispy Shrimp
You can’t get around frying for the crispiest version of this shrimp.
- Flour + Cornstarch: Use a combination of flour and cornstarch for an extra crispy breading. It holds up under the sweet and spicy sauce.
- Dry then fry: Set the shrimp onto a cooling rack after breading, before frying. This gives the breading a chance to “dry out” and gives the shrimp even more crunch.
- Maintain your temp: Use a thermometer to make sure that you’re frying at the right temperature. Maintaining that temperature throughout the cooking time is important, too. The shrimp is deep-fried at 350°F, so using a deep-fat frying thermometer to keep your oil right around that temperature is recommended.
- Deep fry in batches: Crowding the pan is a sure-fire way to drop your oil’s temperature (which results in a soggy, oily breading). Try to keep batches on the smaller side to maintain the proper temperature. One handful at a time (about 7 or 8 shrimp) is generally good.
You can make the bang bang sauce a day or two in advance. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Allow the sauce to sit at room temperature while the shrimp is frying to give it a chance to warm up. This way you’re not left with tepid shrimp after tossing them in the cold-from-the-fridge sauce.
How to Serve Bang Bang Shrimp
I like to add shredded cabbage to my tacos to give a contrast of textures and to temper the heat of the sauce a bit. The shrimp is served in warmed flour tortillas; but, if you want to cut down on carbs, you can serve them in lettuce leaves instead.
I garnish my tacos with thinly sliced radishes and jalapeños, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, and green onions. Letting my crew customize their tacos is always a hit.
Other Great Taco Recipes to Try!
- Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa
- Beef Tacos de Lengua
- Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos
- Spicy Grilled Chicken Tacos
- Grilled Fish Tacos with Strawberry Pineapple Salsa
Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos
Tip for Leftovers! If you know you'll have extra shrimp leftover, don't toss them in the sauce. Store the fried shrimp and the sauce separately. When ready to eat, set the leftover sauce on the counter to come to room temp while you heat the oven to 200°F. Rewarm the shrimp in the oven for 15 minutes, then combine the sauce and the shrimp and eat as directed.
- For the bang bang sauce:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, optional
- For the shrimp:
- 1 1/2 pounds extra-large (26-30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups vegetable oil for frying
- For serving:
- 10 taco-sized flour tortillas, warmed (or Bibb lettuce leaves)
- 8 ounces shredded cabbage, about 3 cups
- Thinly sliced radishes
- Thinly sliced jalapeño peppers
- Sliced green onions
- Chopped cilantro
Make the bang bang sauce
In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, chili garlic sauce, and sriracha together until blended. Store up to two days in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Marinate the shrimp
In a separate bowl, marinate the shrimp in the buttermilk for 20 minutes.
Prepare your breading station
Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
Set a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan on which to place the breaded shrimp prior to frying (this helps achieve a crispy coating on the shrimp).
Set up a draining station as well by lining another sheet pan with a thick layer of paper towels. (Or, if you have another cooling rack to set over the sheet pan, that’s even better!)
Set the oven to 200°F.
Bread the shrimp
While the oil heats, drain the buttermilk and toss the shrimp, in batches, in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and arrange the shrimp on the cooling rack to “dry out” while you’re heating your frying oil.
Heat the oil
Place a thermometer in a wide, deep pot, such as a Dutch oven, and add the oil. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°F. (This will take about 20 minutes.)
Fry the shrimp
Add a handful of the shrimp to the hot oil, and after a minute of frying, use a slotted spoon to stir and separate the shrimp; they like to stick together. Fry for 4 to 4 1/2 minutes, or until the shrimp are golden brown.
Keep the shrimp warm and continue frying
Remove the shrimp from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on your draining rack/pan. Place the cooked shrimp in the warm oven.
Continue frying the remaining shrimp in batches. Remember to let the oil come back up to 350°F in between batches.
Sauce the shrimp:
Once all of the shrimp has been fried, toss it all in 1 cup of the sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce for drizzling on top of the tacos.
Assemble the tacos:
Fill the warmed tortillas with a handful of shredded cabbage, then top the cabbage with the shrimp, then more sauce (if desired). Garnish the tacos with sliced radishes, jalapeños, green onions, and the chopped cilantro, then serve.
These tacos are best enjoyed right away.