Honey walnut shrimp is a western interpretation of a typical Cantonese dish. This is one of the most popular dishes in Chinese restaurants worldwide, and although variations exist, the dish is easy to recognize for its sweetness and golden color.
Shrimp is easy to work with. After all, the shellfish are fully cooked in minutes and lend themselves to many preparations. Battering and frying shrimp is a beautiful way to make the most out of large shrimp, and by doing so in an air fryer, you get crispy results with literally no oil.
To make honey shrimp, you need a creamy batter. Some people use mayo, but if you’re air-frying these bad boys, you want a dry batter based on flour and breadcrumbs — that way, the batter won’t drip inside the air-fryer basket (making a mess in the process).
You’ll need an egg, cornstarch, panko and salt for the batter. We’re also caramelizing the typical walnuts that garnish this dish, so you’ll need walnuts, water and sugar to make a syrup. Of course, have in hand fresh, never-frozen jumbo shrimp.
Honey walnut shrimp is a hearty dish. Not only because the batter makes the shellfish filling but because the sweet nuts contribute to the meal’s weight. In this case, you want to contrast the wholesome dish with something lighter, like roasted veggies or fried rice.
Noodles are always a good pairing for Cantonese seafood, so experiment with those as well. A composite plate with veggies, a starchy side and battered shrimp is a lovely way of eating Chinese at home.
Peel and devein the shrimp. Leave the tails.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and dissolve the sugar. Once boiling, add the walnuts and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch, breadcrumbs and salt.
Whisk the egg in a small bowl and dip the shrimp in the egg.
Coat the shrimp thoroughly with the cornstarch and panko mixture and transfer them into the air fryer basket.
Preheat the air fryer according to the appliance’s instructions to 400°F and cook the shrimp for 5-7 minutes or as per the appliance’s user manual.
Serve the shrimp and top with a fistful of caramelized walnuts. Alternatively, garnish with broccoli florets.