Simplicity at its finest—this recipe works best with the freshest, largest shrimp you can find. Skip the supermarket and visit your local seafood merchant for the best selection.
The cooking times below are for extra-large shrimp (there are 21 to 25 in 1 pound). If this size is not available in your market, buy large shrimp—the next size down—and adjust the cooking time slightly. Either a nonstick or a traditional skillet will work for this recipe, but a nonstick simplifies cleanup.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp, salt, pepper, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add half of the shrimp to the pan in a single layer and cook until spotty brown and the edges turn pink, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, flip each shrimp and let stand until all but the very center is opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and the remaining shrimp. After the second batch has stood off the heat, return the first batch to the skillet and toss to combine. Cover the skillet and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.