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Oven-Fried Shrimp with Aioli

Oven “frying,” which is a good way to prepare not only shrimp, but also sea scallops and chunks of white-fleshed fish, calls for coating the food with beaten egg and crumbs as you do for deep-frying, but then cooking it in a hot oven instead of immersed in oil, yielding a similar result. Panko—light, flaky Japanese bread crumbs—are a particularly crunchy coating.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. crumbled dried thyme
  • 1 cup panko or fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil

Directions:

Make the aioli
Put the garlic slices on a cutting board, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and use the side of a large chef’s knife to mash to a paste. Using the knife, scrape up the paste and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise and lemon zest and set aside.

Season and butterfly the shrimp
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Using a small knife, cut through each shrimp along the outside curve without slicing all the way through. Open the shrimp and press down gently to spread the two sides apart, so most of the meat lies flat and the tail curls upward.

Cook the shrimp
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg with the thyme and a pinch of salt. Place the panko in another shallow bowl.

Holding each shrimp by the tail, dip in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then place in the crumbs, coating both sides well and shaking off any excess. Arrange the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle them evenly with the oil. Bake until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the crumbs are crisp, about 8 minutes. Serve with the aioli for dipping. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Seafood, by Jay Harlow (Oxmoor House, 2007).