Beer-Battered Shrimp with Spicy Ketchup

Virginia Willis

Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome

Fried shrimp might seem a thing of the past if you are trying to eat healthy. These are still a special treat, but are pan-fried, not deep fried, and super crispy because they are made with beer. The alcohol in the beer evaporates quickly as the shrimp cooks leaving them extra crispy. I know it might seem silly to make your own ketchup, and yes, on many busy days homemade ketchup will be too much work. But this zippy sauce is made from wholesome ingredients—no fillers, stabilizers, or corn syrup—and will last up to four weeks in the refrigerator. Make a batch and put it in mason jar for some amped-up flavor.

Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, Y’all, by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Angie Mosier. For more information, visit


4 servings


Spicy Ketchup:
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
1 sweet onion, grated
1 garlic clove, mashed to a paste with salt (see note, below)
One 14.5 ounce no-salt-added canned tomatoes with juice, puréed
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup rice flour or cornstarch
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces light beer
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound large (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the ketchup, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the grated onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the tomatoes, sherry vinegar, honey, smoked paprika, and tomato paste, and then season with salt. Cook until thickened, 45 to 60 minutes.

To prepare the shrimp, combine the panko and cilantro in a shallow baking dish and stir to combine. Combine the rice flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add the beer, stirring with a whisk until a smooth batter.

Line a plate with paper towels. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Working one at a time and using the tail as a handle, dip the shrimp in the batter and shake off the excess. Dredge the shrimp in the panko mixture, making sure to coat both sides. Place the shrimp in a single layer in the pan, and cook until golden brown, about 2 1⁄2 minutes on each side. Remove the shrimp from pan; drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining oil, shrimp, batter, and panko mixture. At the end of cooking, sear the lemon slices in the hot oil until slightly charred. Serve the shrimp and lemon slices hot with the spicy ketchup.

Note: to prepare garlic paste, place the broad side of an unpeeled clove of garlic on a clean work surface. Give it a whack with the side of a chef’s knife. Remove the outside papery skin, and using the knife, trim the tough basal plane at the top of the clove. Halve the clove lengthwise and remove the green shoot, if present, as it is bitter. Coarsely chop the garlic, then sprinkle it with coarse salt. (The salt acts as an abrasive and helps chop the garlic.) Then, using the flat side of the chef’s knife like a palette knife, press firmly on the garlic, crushing a little at a time. Repeat until the garlic is a smooth paste.