Japanese style popcorn shrimp

We got our first snow fall yesterday. That combined with the tail end of my cold meant that I stayed in pajamas the entire day until showering at 8pm only to put said pajamas back on

I watched 1 episode of Mad Men, 3 episodes of Breaking Bad, played about 20 rounds of words with friends (new addiction) and made popcorn shrimp.

Saturdays rock.

I kind of cheated though with the whole “popcorn” thing. Not really cheating, more like taking the Sandra Lee approach. We’ll call this semi-homemade popcorn shrimp instead.

I’m sure you’ve never heard of kara-age because I sure as heck hadn’t prior to this, but it’s basically Japanese shake and bake. Or, what I’m assuming shake and bake is like because I’ve never actually tried it. It’s simple though, you just pour the breading mixture into a plastic bag, toss your shrimp in there, close it, shake it up and pan fry.

The flavor is distinctly Japanese with the amount of ginger in it. Opening the bag will definitely clear your sinuses!

I used to waitress at a restaurant in my hometown on the lake during the summer in college. One of the appetizers was popcorn shrimp with a cajun remoulade. Hands down my favorite thing on the menu. I never witnessed any of the kitchen staff spitting in the food, picking things up off the floor or any of that other gross stuff you fear happens to your food behind the kitchen doors (besides that one time the owners got a cigarette butt in their new england clam chowder), but I will say that many an appetizer plate had a few shrimp picked off the top before being run to the tables.

They were just premade frozen shrimp that came in a huge bag and got dropped into the fryer but damn, they tasted good after 8 hours on your feet running between tables, the bar, the kitchen and not eating until 11pm at night.

These turned out even better than those because they actually had a distinct flavor to them thanks to the ginger and soy sauce in the breading mix. I made an avocado, cilantro dip to go with it which ended up being the perfect complement to the ginger flavor.

A great snack in the middle of our Breaking Bad pajama marathon.

Kara-Age Popcorn Shrimp with Avocado Cilantro Dip
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Japanese style popcorn shrimp.
Recipe type: appetizer, snack
Serves: 2
Popcorn Shrimp
  • 10 large shrimp, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 package Kikkoman Kara-age mixture
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 green onion, chopped for garnish (optional)
Avocado Cilantro Dip
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • juice of ½ lime
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • sriracha for garnish (optional)
Popcorn Shrimp
  1. Place Kara-age mixture into a plastic zip bag.
  2. Add shrimp to bag, close and shake until shrimp at fully coated with mixture.
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Once hot, add shrimp to pan.
  5. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook on other side until golden brown.
  6. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towel.
  7. Serve immediately and garnish with green onion if using.
Avocado Cilantro Dip
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mash together.


*I received the Kikkoman Kara-age sample through the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program.

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  1. 1


    ooooh this looks so good. My husband would go nutso’s for this! Thank you for sharing this is definitely one of those recipes I’m gonna be trying in the very near future.

    • 4

      Running to the Kitchen says

      It is! I loved it though. I always say I would happily blog + waitress. Too bad neither come with health benefits..

  2. 8


    Sounds just about like my day. PJs until I fully showered and got ready at 9pm haha. When I’m waitressing and running around for 5 hours straight I tend to forget about food even though its the focus of my job. When I finally crash down on the couch at 9 or 10pm the hunger comes flooding back… wish I had these at my restaurant to pop into my mouth haha.

  3. 9


    I used to eat potato chips all day long at work, then I realized I’d gained 5 pounds and had to stop. Its amazing how hungry you can get despite being in a restaurant. The lack of breaks could have had something to do with it. I debated carrying a pack of cigarettes because smokers were the only ones who got a break (so unfair).

    • 13

      Running to the Kitchen says

      Haha! Ulysses thinks I’m gross for not brushing my teeth before breakfast, he would’ve divorced me if I waited until nighttime!

  4. 16


    My pinterest hates me – I’ve been trying to pin this post for like 5 minutes (which is a lot in blog time). It looks so delicious! I want it!

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