Carla Hall's Rolling Pin Hack Yields Perfectly Crisp Shrimp

Crunchy fried shrimp are one of life's greatest and most simple pleasures. Shrimp can be stored in your freezer and then defrosted in under an hour when a craving strikes, or even cooked from frozen if you're in a hurry. They're ready in minutes, and can be dressed up or down with an easy egg wash followed by a sprinkle of shredded coconut for some crunchy coconut shrimp. If you're not a fan of coconut, you can coat them with breadcrumbs, or any crunchy bits you have on hand.

The trick to achieving perfectly crispy shrimp on the outside without overcooking or undercooking the inside is simple. Chef and TV personality Carla Hall suggests a fun method that doesn't require any fancy equipment. All you have to do is place your shrimp between two sheets of plastic wrap (or inside a large Ziploc bag) and pound them with a rolling pin until they're flat. This hack helps ensure that your shrimp all cook evenly before being coated in a uniform crust.

Using a rolling pin helps the shrimp cook evenly

In her appearance on the YouTube channel "Potluck Video," Carla Hall revealed that her shrimp recipe is inspired by cracked conch, a popular dish she prepared while working as a private chef in the Bahamas. This method involves tenderizing the typically tough conch by pounding it until it's ready to be battered and fried. However, due to the limited availability of conch in the U.S., she adapted the technique for shrimp.

One of the main challenges when cooking shrimp is to prevent the rubbery texture that comes from overcooking. However, when coating and frying, it's not easy to tell when they're done. Shrimp looks gray when undercooked, and will turn opaque and begin to contract and curl when properly cooked, but these indicators can be concealed under a crunchy coating. Hall's shrimp are placed under a Ziploc bag and then pounded flat before getting dredged. This ensures they cook evenly in the pan, and reduces the likelihood of an unpleasant texture, akin to a deep-fried car tire.

Feel free to get creative with your shrimp

One of the best parts about Carla Hall's recipe is that it's accessible. It doesn't require specialized tools like a meat tenderizer, which makes it a dish that just about anyone can make. Even without a rolling pin, common household items, such as a heavy metal water bottle, can be used to flatten the shrimp.

When preparing your shrimp, ensure they are peeled, deveined, and completely thawed if you're using shrimp from the freezer. The rolling pin technique works with any size shrimp, and you can choose to leave the tails on if preferred. Hall first dips her flattened shrimp in a mixture of eggs and evaporated milk, then dredges them in a blend of flour and cornstarch before frying. However, feel free to substitute with coconut or breadcrumbs, and then fry the shrimp in hot oil on each side until they are perfectly crispy.