Kung Pao shrimp (宫保虾仁)

A stir-fry dish with pungent and fragrant flavour, Kung Pao shrimp is a classic Chinese dish not to miss and it’s very simple to prepare at home.

I guess most people (if not all) who have some knowledge of Chinese food would know a dish called Kung Pao chicken, a classic stir-fry dish from Sichuan cuisine. Use the same cooking method and seasoning combination, you may replace chicken with other ingredients. Today I’d like to share the recipe of Kung Pao shrimp (宫保虾仁), one of my favourite ways to serve this delightful seafood.

A nice plate of Kung Pao shrimp delivers several appetizing flavours: spiciness from dried chilli (and fresh chilli if using), sweet & sour taste from the sauce mixed with a number of classic Chinese condiments, and the beautiful nutty flavour from roasted (or deep fried) peanuts (cashew nuts works too). In addition, to make it really authentic, don’t forget Sichuan pepper which offers a numbing sensation to your mouth.

Stir-fry (chǎo, 炒) is a well-known cooking method in Asian cuisine. However, do you know that there are several different types of stir-fry in which various techniques and approaches are involved? In terms of Kung Pao shrimp (or any other Kung Pao dish), you need to use the “Huá Chǎo (滑炒)” method which has the following  features:

  1. The protein ingredient (meat, poultry, fish or seafood) needs to be marinated beforehand: a little Shaoxing rice wine (加链接) and some corn starch are usually required to balance the taste and lock in the moisture.
  2. The sauce is mixed prior to cooking instead of adding one condiment after another while cooking.
  3. There is always a certain quantity of corn starch in the sauce to help coat the main ingredients. Too little corn starch will result in a watery sauce. Excessive corn starch will make the sauce too thick and the finished dish will look overly sticky.
  4. It normally takes a very short time to cook. You need to have everything ready before heating up the wok (A powerful heat source is preferable). Move fast and do not over cook. The protein ingredient should remain tender and moist. The cooked vegetables should remain a little crunchy.

Other popular stir-fry dishes on my blog, such as Black pepper beef and Shredded pork with garlic sauce, use the same “Huá Chǎo” method. Once you understand its principle, you will soon get the hang of it. Then you will be free to create your own stir-fry dishes with your favourite ingredients and seasoning.

Kung Pao shrimp (宫保虾仁)
Rate this recipe
17 ratings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 13 minutes

Serving Size: 2 servings

Kung Pao shrimp (宫保虾仁)

A stir-fry dish with pungent and fragrant flavour, Kung Pao shrimp is a classic Chinese dish not to miss and it’s very simple to prepare at home.


    For the shrimp
  • 300g / 10oz shrimps (preferably fresh), peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 pinch salt
    You also need
  • 4 tablespoons peanuts (or cashew nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 6-8 dried chilli, halved and deseeded
  • 1 pinch Sichuan peppercorn (see note 1)
  • 2 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 slice ginger, julienned
  • 4 stalks spring onion, chopped
  • 3 fresh chilli (optional), chopped


  1. Mix shrimp with rice wine, white pepper, corn starch and salt. Leave to marinate.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the sauce.
  3. Roast peanuts (or cashew nuts) in an empty wok (or a deep frying pan) over medium low heat until lightly brown. Transfer out and set aside (see note 2).
  4. Heat oil in the wok over a high heat. Fry dried chilli, Sichuan pepper, garlic and ginger until fragrant (do not burn!).
  5. Stir in shrimp, spring onion and fresh chilli (if using). Pour in the sauce (stir well beforehand) as soon as the shrimp curls up and turns pink (see note 3).
  6. Then add roasted peanuts (or cashew nuts). Give everything a quick stir before dishing out. Serve warm with plain rice.


1. If unavailable, you may replace whole Sichuan peppercorn with ground Sichuan pepper. In this case, sprinkle along with roasted peanuts at the end of cooking process.

2. In traditional versions of this dish, peanuts are deep fried . You may do so if you wish.

3. It takes very little time to cook shrimp. To ensure the tenderness, please pay close attention to avoid overcooking.


Hope you find my recipe of Kung Pao shrimp appealing. By the way, I’m organizing a Culinary tour of China which includes the capital of Sichuan province (the home of Kung Pao chicken) as one of the six destinations. Click the link below to find out more.

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

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