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Szechuan Prawns (shrimps)

Pierre loves prawns. He would eat them in whichever way or sauce they are cooked in: spicy, baked, in soup, buttered, steamed, with or without sauce, grilled, deep fried, etc. So we get to cook prawns pretty often, and one of my favorite recipe is this Chinese dish. It's so simple, easy and fool proof - it was a success the first time I cooked it.

Szechuan Prawns
  • 250 to 300 g raw tiger prawns (shrimps)
  • ½ egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) paste (see notes below for preparation)
  • 600 ml or 2½ cups vegetable oil
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
  • a pinch of salt


  • 1 tsp ginger root (chopped finely)
  • 2 spring onions (chopped finely)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped finely)
  • 3-4 small dried red chillies (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine) or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée (paste)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp Chinese stock or water
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  1. Peel the raw prawns, then mix them with salt, egg white and cornflour (cornstarch) paste until well coated.
  2. Heat the oil in a preheated wok until it is smoking, then deep-fry the prawns in hot oil for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.
  3. Pour off the oil, leaving only a bit in the wok. Add in all the ingredients for the sauce, bring to the boil and stir until smooth and well blended.
  4. Add the prawns to the sauce, stirring to blend. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve it with rice.
Szechuan prawns ingredients

This dish never fails me. It is always as delicious as the first time I made it. Not only does it taste great, it's also very aromatic. Pierre, Patrick (my father-in-law) and his uncle love this dish very much and so do my friends. They always ask me when I'm cooking this dish again so that they can come over for dinner.;-)

For preparation of this dish, I use long dried chillies (I think it is called cayenne pepper/finger chili/ginnie pepper) instead and I use only 3, yet Pierre felt it was a bit spicy for him. So if you or your guests are not used to spiciness, reduce it to 2 or even 1. When making the sauce, I usually double the quantity specified because Pierre loves to spread the spicy gravy over his rice. I also lump all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix them up before adding them to the wok: it saves time. Sometimes I even prepare the sauce ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator till I want to cook the meal.

As for cooking the prawns, sometimes I skip step 1 & 2 and just stir-fry my raw prawns with a bit of oil first before adding the sauce in.


To prepare cornflour paste, mix 1 part cornflour with about 1.5 parts of cold water. Stir until smooth. This paste can be used to thicken sauces.

If raw prawns are not available, then use cooked prawns but omit step 1 & 2 and add the cooked prawns directly before the sauce at step 3.

Take care when handling dried chillies, as chili juice stings; avoid touching your eyes and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Discard the seeds as these are the hottest part.

Chinese Szechuan Prawns
#1, by big boys oven (07/03/2007)

They look so lovely and yet easy to dish up. it will be all time favourite.

#2, by Little Corner of Mine (07/04/2007)

Looks good and we love spicy food. Always finding new way to cook prawns. Thanks for sharing!:-)

#3, by Carol (07/04/2007)

Ninja, your szechuan prawns look absolutely Yummy! Prawns are my favourite seafood and I love it no matter how it's done!

#4, by Kelly Mahoney (07/04/2007)

That is some wonderful-looking shrimp, even before the cooking. You must have a great fishmonger.

#5, by Lori (07/04/2007)

That looks fantastic. And it doesn't sound too hard either. I never make shrimp that often, but I should try this!!

#6, by Tummythoz (07/04/2007)

And peeled too! Drools.

#7, by MeltiingWok (07/04/2007)

Your version of Sichuan shrimps looks great, kind of remind of of sambal udang tomato yumssss:-) Hey, next time, you might wanna wow them more even more, using spicy szechuan peppercorns hehehe..:)

#8, by wokandspoon (07/04/2007)

That dish looks good. Did you cook the prawns before you made the dish? The prawns on your plate of ingredients look cooked. I haven't seen fresh prawns in Frankfurt unfortunately:-(

#9, by The Cooking Ninja (07/04/2007)

@wokandspoon: Yes they were bought frozen and precooked in vacuum pack. They don't sell fresh prawns here too. Usually I buy boxes of frozen raw prawns when there is a sale at the supermarket. But sometimes I also buy precooked salted prawns on the wagon at the supermarket if they are big and cheap. I miss having fresh prawns so easily available like in Singapore.

#10, by valentinA (07/04/2007)

I've tasted Szechuan chicken before & I like it pretty much. I'm allergic to seafood & your dish makes me feel unlucky for not being able to try it:(

#11, by The Cooking Ninja (07/04/2007)

@valentinA: oh, I'm so sorry about it. I have a friend who is only allergic to prawns and another who is allergic to seafood too.

#12, by tigerfish (07/04/2007)

How can I miss this dish? Will cook it soon.
But with the tomato ketchup you added, is your prawns spicy?

#13, by Dianne (07/04/2007)

Oh yes! I want some of these NOW!!!

#14, by The Cooking Ninja (07/04/2007)

I have never tried it using tomato ketchup before. But I have tried it with tomato paste (concentrate) and also tomato puree (if using this, double or triple the quantity required but reduce the water) - both taste great. Yes, the prawns is still spicy even with the tomato paste or puree.

#15, by Nora (07/04/2007)

That looks delicious. I have my own version of szechuan prawns/chicken. But I will give yours a go since it's so popular with your family & friends:-) I usually garnish the dish with some roasted cashew nuts.

#16, by lynn (07/04/2007)

I'm drooling! That looks wonderful. I love the pretty picture of all the ingredients lined up ready to go.

#17, by Cynthia (07/04/2007)

I'm hungry, want some:-)

#18, by eastmeetswestkitchen (07/05/2007)

Sounds wonderfully spicy!:-)

#19, by tigerfish (07/06/2007)

Oops, oops, I think I read it wrongly. Paying too much attention to your prawns and not the text ;p

#20, by indosungod (07/06/2007)

Wowee! I want to taste some of that right now. I am so used to making Shrimp Curry Masala, will have to try this.

#21, by Isha (07/06/2007)

woowww!!! so tempting *droooling*

#22, by sher (07/06/2007)

Hmm, I see that it's dangerous to read your blog. Now I'm so darn hungry!

#23, by IronEaters (07/07/2007)

I agree that the prawns look good even before you cook them (considering they were frozen prawns!) =D

#24, by keropokman (07/15/2007)


Will adding szechuan veg inside makes it tastier?
I simply love szechuan veg!
Even simply stir frying it with nothing! *lao nuah*

looking at your ingredients, you can tahan not eating them.
if it's me, i would have finished the prawns before the dish is done. haha..

#25, by The Cooking Ninja (07/15/2007)

@keropokman: Have to, no choice leh.;-) Might be interesting to add szechuan veg but would need to cut down on the soya sauce and oyster sauce since the veg is very salty. As far as the taste goes, might be interesting but I really don't know how it would turn out as they don't sell szechuan veg here. Do let me know the result if you do try it out.:-)

#26, by Jaded (07/17/2007)

Oh yeah... now that looks mouthwatering. I'm putting this in my future recipes to try list. Thanks!

#27, by Steamy Kitchen (07/24/2007)

I love the way this dish looks! yummmmm

#28, by Janice (03/03/2010)

Looks fantastic, I love prawns!

#29, by Rajeev (09/01/2010)

would like to authenticate the recipe a bit, for heat consider adding siracha (hot chinese chilli sauce ) 1 tsp or more as desired,one tbsp of tomato paste and a bit more garlic and definitely sugar at least 2 tsp for the recipe above and cornstarch liquid for thickening. let me know how it turns out..

#30, by The Cooking Ninja (09/13/2010)

@Rajeev: Thanks for the tip. Will try your version next time when I make this dish again.:-)