To shell or not to shell? I personally don't like cooking shrimp with shells on just because I prefer to not dirty my hands when eating. The faster the food can get into my mouth, the happier I am. However, when the dish is the famous Hawaiian garlic shrimp with rice I will definitely make an excuse. Because it really comes down to the fact that when a dish has so few ingredients it’s important to get the best quality ingredients you can find but also to use all of it to get the maximum flavor out of it. A lot of the flavor can be pulled from the bones of animals and the same goes for shellfish. The exoskeleton of a shrimp contains tons of umami flavor that help take the garlic butter to the next level. They’re also edible but I won't judge you for not wanting to eat it. I will judge you for not getting your hands covered in the delicious garlic butter while you peel the shells off the shrimp and enjoy a homemade version of one of the most popular local Hawaiian dishes there is. You see, eating garlic shrimp with your hands is also part of the experience, the dish, the flavor. Packed with TONS of caramelized garlic, melted butter, and an intense squeeze of lemon Hawaiian garlic shrimp is a fun, get messy, eat-it-outdoors experience.
Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp Over Rice
20 prawns or shrimp, shell on
1 tablespoon of cornstarch or flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sweet paprika (will make it red)
¼ teaspoon of red chili powder, optional (will make it red)
Pinch of salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp of butter
2 bulbs of garlic (about 15- 20 cloves), peeled & minced
Start by removing the head of the shrimp by pinching and twisting until it comes off. Next, use a sharp serrated knife to butterfly open and devein all of the shrimp. Rinse under cold water and pat dry.
Add the shrimp to the bag and squeeze in about 1 tablespoon worth of lemon juice. Shake to combine.
Next, sprinkle in the corn starch, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Shake again to evenly coat the prawns in the dry mix.
Set a pan to medium high heat and drizzle in about 3 tablespoons of oil. Once it begins to shimmer, pan-fry the prawns for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Once the shrimp are almost done cooking, take them out of the pan and set aside. Lower the heat to medium and drop in the butter. Let it melt and then add all the chopped garlic and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant and golden.
Squeeze in the juice of ½ a lemon and add back in the prawns. Toss to combine and saute together on high heat for 1 minute.
Serve with hot white rice and lemon slices. Be sure to pour the buttery garlic sauce all over the shrimp and rice! Enjoy!
It is preferred that you get shrimp that is larger in size. They are usually sold 16-20 count per pound. My favorite are called tiger prawns but if you cant find them try to get the biggest shrimp your store has. Be aware that your cooking time will vary if you buy shrimp that are on the smaller side or larger side. There are two types of paprika, sweet and smoked. Sweet paprika compliments the garlic butter sauce better than smoked paprika because the smoked one can be a little too strong and overwhelming in the sweet buttery garlic sauce. Try not to sub it! I used olive oil and butter for the garlic sauce but using 100% clarified butter is best. The higher smoke temp wont burn the shrimp or garlic and you are still left with the delicious buttery taste. I didn't have clarified butter on hand so I went with an equal amount of olive oil and butter. If you have clarified butter on hand, use 5 tablespoons and omit the olive oil and butter. Okay so I know peeling and mincing garlic can be such a chore but please, please, please use fresh garlic. Don't use pre-minced garlic because the flavor is NOT the same as fresh. There are only a few ingredients in this dish and the garlic is the most important one. Spend a little bit more time to chop your garlic and your tastebuds will thank you.