Sautéed Shrimp in Fish Sauce Caramel

Angela Dimayuga of NYC’s Mission Chinese Food uses her deeply flavorful fish sauce caramel for a variety of seafood; she loves adding crushed red pepper and black pepper to amp up the flavor even more. Slideshow:  More Shrimp Recipes 

Sautéed Shrimp in Fish Sauce Caramel
Photo: © John Kernick
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, shells intact

  • One 6-ounce bunch of watercress, thick stems discarded


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 1 tablespoon of water. Cook over moderately high heat, swirling the pan, until an amber caramel forms, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately add the fish sauce, soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of water.

  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat until smoking. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the canola oil and stir in half of the garlic and crushed red pepper; season with salt and pepper. Add half of the shrimp in an even layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until the shrimp are crisp on the outside and just white throughout, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and shrimp.

  3. Return all of the shrimp to the skillet; add the caramel sauce. Cook over high heat, tossing, until the shrimp are hot and evenly coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Scatter the watercress on a platter, top with the shrimp and sauce and serve. Eat the shrimp with or without the shells.

Suggested Pairing

Bracing, zesty pink wine.

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