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Salt and Pepper Spicy Shrimp

I know you said that you didnt like a straight cookbook copy ... but that is

how I cook - very nerdy (bookish) but very safe... Anyway, I will add my

comments in brackets (most of the time I followed Ken's recipe) :

Salt and Pepper Spicy Shrimp (Singaporeans/Asians call shrimps as prawns)

(from Ken Hom's Fragrant Harbor Taste - yes, the Americans spell it Harbor

and the measurements are non-metric and in American spelling)

Ingredients :

2 tbsp salt                   

1 pound large shrimp, unpeeled and deveined

2 tsp coarse or kosher salt (I just use ordinary table salt)

1 tsp roasted Sichuan peppercorns, ground

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp finely chopped garlic

2 tsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

2 tbsp finely chopped whole scallions (aka green/spring onions)

2 fresh red chili peppers, coarsely chopped

2 cups peanut oil, for deep frying

Method :

1. To clean the prawns, fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1 tbsp

salt. Gently wash the prawns in the salt water, drain and repeat the process

using fresh salted water. Then rinse the shrimp under cold running water,

drain and BLOT dry (very important to avoid splatters later on) with paper


(Comment 1 : If you plan to leave the shell including the head on, cut off

the feathery legs, the eyes and the spiky 'sword' on top of the head (you

won't want to get poked by that when you are eating !). 

Comment 2 : If the thought of the prawn head grosses you out, behead the

chap but keep the rest of the shell on. See note 2 below.

Comment 3 : If the prawn is very big, you might want to cut a tiny bit off

the tail - cut at a slant. A chef on TV said that for big prawns, water may

be found in the tail end and the cut would drain the water away - I found

that to be true !)

2. In a small bowl, combine the coarse salt, peppercorns, and sugar and set


3. In another small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, scallions and chopped

chillies. (You can leave it on the chopping board - whatever is easiest for

you! Also important for the ingredients to be finely chopped - it really

does make a difference.. try it and see)

4. Heat wok till hot and add oil. When oil is very hot and smoking, add the

prawns and deep fry for about 1 minute or until they are pink. (Do NOT

overcook at this point !) Remove immediately with slotted sppon and drain well.

5. Pour off all but 1-1/2 tbsp of oil and reheat wok. Add

salt-peppercorns-sugar mixture and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add the

garlic(-and-gang) and stir fry for 10 seconds more. Return prawns to the wok

and stir fry over high heat for about 2 minutes until the spices have

thoroughly coated the outer shell of the shrimp.

6. Transfer to a serving platter and serve AT ONCE (while it is still crispy).

Serves 4 to 6 (or 2 very very hungry Singaporeans)

Notes :

1. I read somewhere that the salt water firms up the flesh of the prawns

making it better tasting.         

2. The prawn shells are left on as they keep the juices and flavours inside.

3. When the prawns are deep fried whole, the shells become transparent,

crisp and edible but to achieve this, the oil must be very hot before

deep-frying the prawns.

4. As a variation, I have been using a Spice-salt mixture from Yan Kit's

book - it looked like the same dish and after cooking that dish, I had

leftovers so I kept and have been using the mixture with Ken's recipe...

Heat wok over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add 2 tbsp salt and

stir continuously for 4 minutes i.e. until very hot and slightly grayish in

colour. Transfer to a small bowl. Add 1 tsp five-spice powder, 1 tsp ground

roasted Sichuan peppercorns and 1 tsp ground black pepper. Mix well. Cool.

She used 1 tbsp of the salt mixture for 1 pound of prawns - I usually use

less (abt 2 big pinches as I don't like very salty foods) so this is really

up to the cook.

Enjoy !

Contributed by - Teresa Lee
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