A stir-fry dish with pungent & 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 combination of great flavours
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.
How to stir-fry Kung Pao dishes
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:
- The protein ingredient (meat, poultry, fish or seafood) needs to be marinated beforehand: a little Shaoxing rice wine and some cornstarch are usually required to balance the taste and lock in the moisture.
- The sauce is mixed prior to cooking instead of adding one condiment after another while cooking.
- There is always a certain quantity of cornstarch 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.
- 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 dishes using the same method
There are quite a few stir-fry dishes on my blog 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)
For the shrimp
- 300 g shrimps, peeled and deveined - 10oz
- ½ teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 pinch white pepper
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
For the sauce
You also need
- 4 tablespoon peanuts - or cashew nuts
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil
- 8 dried chilli, halved and deseeded
- 1 pinch Sichuan peppercorn - see note 1
- 2 clove garlic, sliced
- 2 slice ginger, julienned
- 4 stalk scallions, finely chopped
- 3 fresh chilli, finely chopped - optional
- Mix shrimp with rice wine, white pepper, corn starch and salt. Leave to marinate.
- In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Roast peanuts (or cashew nuts) in an empty wok over medium low heat until lightly brown. Transfer out and set aside (see note 2).
- Heat oil in the wok over high heat. Fry dried chilli, Sichuan pepper, garlic and ginger until fragrant (do not burn).
- Stir in shrimp, scallions and fresh chilli (if using). As soon as the shrimp curls up and turns pink, pour in the sauce (stir well beforehand, see note 3).
- Add roasted peanuts (or cashew nuts). Give everything a quick stir then dish out. Serve warm with plain rice.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.