Szechuan shrimp is a spicy dish known for its bold flavours. Szechuan, as a region, is known for its spicy cuisine. We love this shrimp dish for its crunch, sweetness and spiciness with a slight numbing sensation.
Moreover, instead of ordering this Chinese takeout, you can easily recreate it at home. Our recipe has been specifically created to include some easy cooking hacks and all the authentic flavours of this classic dish. So, if you need a delicious serotonin boost, check out our recipe for this Chinese takeout classic!
- What is Szechuan shrimp made of?
- What flavour is Szechuan sauce?
- What does Szechuan shrimp taste like?
- Szechuan shrimp vs Hunan shrimp
- Mongolian shrimp vs Szechuan shrimp
- Szechuan shrimp vs Kung Pao shrimp
- Szechuan shrimp calories
- Szechuan ingredients
- Additional steps for crispy Szechuan shrimp
- Additional steps for grilled Szechuan shrimp
- Szechuan shrimp cooking tips
- Szechuan Shrimp Recipe (Authentic Chinese Takeout)
- Szechuan shrimp variations to try next
What is Szechuan shrimp made of?
This Asian seafood dish is made of prawns with dry red chillies, peppercorns and other vegetables alongside the meat. Although chillies and peppercorns are the main ingredients, other recipes also use garlic, ginger, bell peppers, broccoli, and scallion. Alternatively, some chefs might include also chestnuts. Ultimately, the key is for the dish to be as spicy and crunchy as possible.
What flavour is Szechuan sauce?
This Szechuan sauce is generally spicy, followed by sweet undertones. In addition, its region of origin is famous for its use of aromatic, mind-numbing seasonings.
Furthermore, the sauce usually includes a blend of spices, ginger, plum, sesame and soy sauce. Hence, the final result is a 'zingy' sauce with a touch of sweetness from the plum.
What does Szechuan shrimp taste like?
Szechuan shrimp tastes spicy with a slight tingle on the tongue, thanks to the overwhelming spice. However, after the heat has gone, you'll sense wavering notes of saltiness and sweetness. Sometimes, chefs add honey or brown sugar to emphasise this tinge of sweetness and balance out the spice.
Consequently, the sauce is gooey, and the seafood’s saltiness enhances the final flavour.
Szechuan shrimp vs Hunan shrimp
The similarity between the Szechuan and the Hunan version is that they both have garlic, rice vinegar and soy sauce.
But the main difference is that Hunan shrimp is purely spicy. Therefore, you'll have a mouth-numbing sensation of heat, overwhelming everything else. However, the Szechaun alternative has tiny peaks of sweetness, courtesy of the plum or sugar that chefs may add to the dish.
Mongolian shrimp vs Szechuan shrimp
On the other hand, the Mongolian interpretation of this seafood dish is not spicy compared to the latter, which is known for its hot and sweet spice. Furthermore, the Mongolian version is mild without any mind-numbing seasoning, and the prawns are stir-fried with other ingredients and then served.
Szechuan shrimp vs Kung Pao shrimp
However, the main difference between the Szechuan and kung pao versions is their spice level. Although both dishes have almost the same ingredient mix of sugar or honey, bell peppers, prawns and other seasonings, the Kung Pao variant adds nuts and has lesser spicy ingredients. Therefore, you'll typically find more 'heaty' ingredients, such as garlic and ginger.
Szechuan shrimp calories
This dish contains 280 calories in one serving (120g).
To cook this delectable Chinese classic, you'll need prawns, Szechuan peppercorn, chilli pepper, ginger and garlic. Additionally, you'll need Chinese five spices, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, Shaoxing wine and light soy sauce. Ultimately, these extra ingredients are necessary to create the iconic spicy sauce.
For the marinade:
When you order from the restaurants, most will serve Szechuan prawns Chinese takeaway, using prawns instead of their smaller counterpart. Since prawns are relatively large, you'll get a meatier and juicier bite.
For the Szechuan shrimp stir fry:
- Chopped garlic
- Chopped ginger
- Vegetable cooking oil
- Dried chilli pepper
Ultimately, you may adapt and choose whatever vegetables you wish to add. Therefore, it's up to your liking whether you prefer Szechuan shrimp with broccoli or Szechuan shrimp with green beans.
For the sauce:
- Szechuan peppercorn
- Chinese five spice
- Light soy sauce
- Cooking wine
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Spicy bean paste (optional)
The most important one among the above ingredients is the Szechuan peppercorns as they add the kick. However, any variety of peppercorns will do.
Additional steps for crispy Szechuan shrimp
So, you want to make crispy Szechuan shrimp? Therefore, you will need these ingredients to prepare the shellfish and stir-fry, together with the sauce ingredients for the dish.
- ½ cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of peppercorns
- 2 cups of panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 lb of jumbo prawns, shell-on
- Vegetable oil (use oils with smoke point such as peanut oil)
Here are the quick steps to cooking the dish:
- Firstly, coat the shellfish with flour and shake off any excess flour. Then, dip the prawns in egg mixture, and coat them with bread crumbs until covered. Be sure that the shellfish are spread open for maximum crumb retention. This is done by letting them sit on some baking paper for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast the peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant. Afterwards, grind the peppercorns to a fine powder and set it aside.
- Subsequently, combine all the sauce ingredients.
- Roll each prawn in seasoned flour, then fry in a large skillet with vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Finally, add the shellfish and cook on both sides until golden.
Alternatively, refer to the next section if you prefer grilled Szechuan shrimp.
Additional steps for grilled Szechuan shrimp
If you want grilled Szechump shrimp, ensure to grill them with the shells on. In doing this, much more flavour is added to the shellfish. Here are the ingredients you'll need:
- 2 tablespoon of melted butter
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 lb of jumbo shrimp, shell-on
- 2 tablespoon of whole peppercorns
- 3 tablespoon of sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
Follow these steps to grill:
- Firstly, heat your grill for direct grilling (high heat).
- Toss the prawns with melted butter and sugar. Afterwards, pierce the jumbo shellfish with a wooden skewer along the backside.
- Meanwhile, toast the peppercorns until fragrant. Grind the peppercorns with salt and stir in orange zest.
- Grill the prawns on each side. Finally, serve with the peppercorn mixture.
Szechuan shrimp cooking tips
When it's time for you to attempt your version of this mouthwatering Chinese seafood dish, try using some of these tips:
If your sauce is not thick enough, mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with water. Afterwards, toss this cornstarch mixture into the stir fry when the dish is almost complete. Consequently, the sauce will immediately thicken with the wok flavours and coat your ingredients evenly.
Next, use a wok. A wok is often used in Chinese restaurants because it retains heat well. Also, heat the wok before adding cold oil so the food does not stick.
If your dish turns out rubbery, you've cooked it too long. So, the snap would not be there. Be sure to watch when the meat turns brown - that's a sure sign that it's done.
Szechuan Shrimp Recipe (Authentic Chinese Takeout)
- 300 g shrimps
For the marinade:
For the stir-fry:
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 thumb ginger chopped
- 3 scallions cut into sections
- 3 tbsps vegetable cooking oil divided
- ½ cup dried chilli pepper pre-soaked
- Firstly, cut dried chilli peppers and soak them in water for 15 minutes. Then, drain and set aside.
- Next marinate the shellfish by adding in all the seasonings, mixing well and setting it aside for 15 minutes. Afterwards, add one tablespoon of cornstarch before frying.
- Heat your pan or wok firstly, and then add cold oil. Place the shellfish in. Then turn over. Fry until the prawns change colour. Transfer out.
- Add oil and fry peppers. Then place bean paste and fry over a small fire. Next, toss in the garlic, ginger, scallion and peppercorn, and fry for half a minute.
- Return the shellfish to the wok. Add soy sauce and cooking wine. Then add green onion sections, toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil. Mix and serve your Szechuan shrimp hot.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Szechuan shrimp variations to try next
There are plenty of other Szechuan shrimp variations that you can try. You can pair this dish with a number of different side dishes and additional ingredients!
- Szechuan shrimp fried rice
- Szechuan shrimp lettuce wrap
- Szechuan shrimp noodles
- With chicken
- Rock shrimp
- Added salt and pepper
- More garlic
- Added peppercorns
If you liked the sauce for this dish and would like a non-seafood alternative, why not try our Szechuan chicken recipe? Alternatively, if you would like a quick seafood snack you must try making shrimp chips!
We hope you've enjoyed this authentic Szechuan shrimp recipe. If you've cooked this zesty Asian dish, tag us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks and give us a follow! We'll love to see your cooking efforts.