Sichuan Prawns in Chilli Sauce

By Ken Hom From the book Complete Chinese Cookbook
Sichuan Prawns in Chilli Sauce

Sichuan cooking is popular throughout China. I can see why – next to Cantonese, it is one of my favourite culinary regions of Chinese cookery. This is one of the best known dishes from that area, but beware of versions that tend to err on the side of excessive sweetness. The dish is quick and easy and makes a wholesome and delicious meal, served with a stir-fried vegetable and steamed rice.

For how many? Serves 4


  • 450g (1lb) uncooked prawns
  • 1½ tbsp groundnut oil
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp chilli bean sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese black vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • For the garnish:
  • spring onions, sliced lengthways


If required, peel the prawns and, if you are using large uncooked ones, cut them down the back and remove the fine digestive cord. Wash them and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Heat a wok or a large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the ginger, garlic and spring onions. Stir-fry for 20 seconds and then add the prawns. Stir-fry the prawns for about 1 minute.

Add the sauce ingredients, season with ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and continue to stir-fry for another 3–5 minutes over a high heat. Garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.

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