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There’s a local restaurant near me called Angel Oak that is off the beaten path and is super quaint. It’s not much to look at on the outside, but they make some mighty fine food and has a cozy interior atmosphere. One of their signature lunch dishes is bang bang shrimp buns. Theses doughy, steamed buns are topped with fried shrimp, pickled onions, and a bang bang sauce. Little did I know when I first ate this zesty little dish that apparently bang bang sauce is a thing (as in 4.88 million hits if you google it-thing). I believe the original sauce came from Bonefish Grill and has just grown in popularity over the years. Obviously, this dish is super rich between the frying and the creamy dressing. However, one of my favorite things to do is re-creating restaurant meals that are indulgent into lighter, healthier versions that are easily made at home. Challenge accepted.
First, the shrimp.
My favorite way to lighten up fried foods is by oven frying and using cornflakes cereal as my breading. I think most people know about using cornflakes to bread foods for a super crunchy crust without frying. I’ve used this method for all sorts of protein including chicken, fish, pork, and shrimp. It’s super versatile, easy and slashes a good bit of fat and calories from a meal. The only fat I use is from cooking spray. Rather than buying a bottle of a commercial cooking spray. I like to use a Misto – it’s a pump spray bottle where you can add your own oil of your choosing – olive, avocado, grapeseed, whatever you desire! It’s reusable and refillable, so you can save quite a few aluminum cans from the landfill. I use it all the time for perfect portion control of oils.
I “oven fried” these shrimp on a silicone baking mat – which prevents sticking without additional oil. I very much recommend using a silicone baking mat – such as a Silpat. I received one as a gift one year for Christmas, and it’s a game changer. If mine broke or was damaged, I would not hesitate in buying a new one ASAP. Nothing will stick to this thing – it eliminates the need for additional cooking spray or oil and makes clean up a cinch.
Next, the sauce.
The bang bang sauce is very simple – mayo, sriracha, and sweet Thai sauce. I kept the lighten up version just as healthy – I swapped light mayo for the regular mayo. Kind of a no-brainer, and if you’re not a huge fan of light mayo chances are you won’t notice as much as the sriracha and Thai sauce make up most of the flavor.
On to the pickled onions.
Okay, there is nothing wrong with the pickled onions, but I think there needs to be more vegetables. For this recipe, I chose broccoli slaw mix. I even threw in some thinly sliced bell peppers, but you could use any thinly sliced vegetables – red onions, carrots, cabbage, whatever strikes your fancy. The bottom line here though is eat more vegetables. Never a bad idea! The vegetables are “quick pickled” with some apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and a little bit of salt. It’s the perfect contrast to the creamy sauce and crunchy shrimp.
Lastly, the the buns.
The tortillas aren’t necessarily healthier than the steamed buns, but they are easier to find. This is the part where you choose what you like best. My local Asian market across town stocks the buns in the freezer section and they’re super easy to prepare, but the grocery store just up the street has tortillas. I chose the one that required less driving. 🙂
- 1 bag (12 oz.) bag of broccoli slaw or other favorite slaw mix
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced or other thinly sliced vegetable of your choosing, optional
- 1 lime, juiced
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. honey or sugar
- 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
- Cooking spray (or Misto - see above)
- 1 lb. large shrimp, deveined and shelled
- ⅓ cup flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3½ cups of crushed cornflakes
- 4 tbsp. light mayo
- 1 tbsp. sweet Thai sauce
- 2 tsp. sriracha (more or less depending on desired spiciness)
- 12 tortillas (corn or flour - whichever is preferred), warmed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place slaw mixture and additional vegetables (if using) in a bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together lime juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, honey, and 2 tbsp. of cilantro. Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and toss. Set aside.
- Spray sheet pan with cooking spray or line sheet pan with silicone baking mat.
- Place flour, eggs, and crushed cornflakes in 3 separate bowls.
- Working in batches, dip shrimp in the flour, then the egg, then the crushed cornflakes, coating the shrimp all over. Place shrimp on the sheet pan, evenly spaced apart.
- Once all shrimp are placed on sheet pan, spray shrimp with cooking spray (or Misto), place pan in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, flip shrimp, spray with cooking spray (or Misto), and place back in oven for 5 minutes or until shrimp are opaque when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven.
- While shrimp are in oven, mix together mayo, Thai sauce, and sriracha in a small bowl for the bang bang sauce.
- Assemble tacos by layering warm tortilla shell with slaw, then crispy shrimp, followed by a drizzle of the bang bang sauce. Serve extra slaw on the side. Serve immediately.
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