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A plate of Chinese salt and pepper shrimp
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4.89 from 9 votes

Salt and Pepper Shrimp (椒盐虾)

Fried to a crispy texture and served with an aromatic seasoning, Chinese salt and pepper shrimp can be made at home to a restaurant standard. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Cantonese, Prawn, Seafood
Servings: 2
Calories: 347kcal
Author: Wei Guo


For the salt & pepper seasoning (Jiao Yan)

  • 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper
  • ½ star anise, break into small pieces and remove the brown seeds
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 teaspoon salt

For frying the shrimp

  • 300 g shell-on shrimp (or prawns), with or without heads see note 1
  • 3 tablespoon corn starch or tapioca starch
  • Neutral cooking oil, for deep or shallow frying see note 2

You also need

  • 2 tablespoon minced shallots, or onion
  • 2 tablespoon minced red chili pepper
  • 2 tablespoon minced green chili pepper
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 stalk scallions, finely chopped


Make the salt & pepper seasoning

  • Put Sichuan pepper, star anise, sesame seeds, fennel seeds and salt into a pan. Toast over low heat while stirring from time to time.
  • Once the salt darkens slightly and the spices become very fragrant, remove from the heat then grind in a mortar or a spice grinder. Set aside (see note 3).

Prepare the shrimp

  • Rinse the shrimp under running water. Use kitchen paper to pat dry.
  • Add corn starch. Gently stir to have all the shrimp evenly coated with the starch.

Fry the shrimp (two ways)

  • Option 1 DEEP FRYING: Pour oil into a wok over high heat (I use about 800ml). When it reaches 375°F/190°C, gently slide in the shrimp. Use chopsticks to separate if they stick together. Take out when they look pink and crispy. It took me about 90 seconds. Depending on the size of your shrimp, adjust if necessary.
  • Option 2 SHALLOW FRYING: Pour oil into a pan over high heat (enough to cover half of the shrimp when laid flat). When it starts to smoke, place in the shrimp (Fry in two batches if necessary to avoid overlapping). Flip over to fry the other side when the first side turns pink and crispy. Please be aware that the oil will splash quite a bit so place a splatter screen over the pan if available. Alternatively, you can hold a lid over the pan (but do not cover completely) to block splashing.

Combine the dish

  • Pour the oil out of the wok/pan leaving just a thin layer on the surface. Add shallots, pepper, garlic and ginger. Fry over medium heat for about 1 min.
  • Put in the fried shrimp and ½ teaspoon of the salt & pepper seasoning (or to taste). Toss well to season evenly then garnish with scallions. Dish out and serve immediately.


1. Although shrimp and prawn are two different species scientifically, they are interchangeable in cooking. So please feel free to use either of them.
2. Make sure you use oil which has a high smoking point thus is suitable for frying at high temperature, e.g. vegetable oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, rapeseed oil, etc.
3. The quantity suggested produces much more salt and pepper seasoning than what you need for this recipe. Keep the leftover in an airtight jar for later use. You can sprinkle it over fried eggs, add it to stir-fries, use it to season Scallion Pancakes/Scallion Flower Rolls, or use as a dry rub for meat (e.g. Smoked Chicken).


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 347kcal