This delicious take on the Chinese-American takeout classic using shrimp instead of chicken for a weeknight meal that comes together in about 15 minutes. Like all stir-fry recipes, Kung Pao Shrimp requires a bit of prep work, but once your mis-en-place is done, it only takes about 5 minutes to cook. That’s why it’s very important to have everything prepped and ready before you start stir-frying, or some your dish will get overcooked/burnt.
I based this recipe on my Kung Pao Chicken but because shrimp tends to have a more intense flavor than chicken, I’ve added extra ginger and garlic as well as some black pepper. Because shrimp cooks faster than chicken, I’ve also changed the order in which the ingredients are added to the pan so the shrimp doesn’t overcook.
The finished dish is a masterpiece of vibrant colors and varying textures, with shrimp that pop in your mouth, tender sweet peppers, crunchy browned peanuts, and a balanced savory/sweet sauce with just a hint of nutty acidity from the black vinegar.
If you have time, it’s worth soaking your shrimp in an alkaline solution such as potassium carbonate because it improves the texture, giving it a firm supple crunch that’s a signature part of shrimp in Chinese cuisine. You can read a bit more about the process in my Wonton Noodle Soup recipe.
Kung Pao Shrimp
- 9 ounces shrimp (18 medium shrimp, peeled & deveined)
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon potato starch
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon black vinegar
- 2 teaspoons doubanjiang
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon potato starch
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1.75 ounces peanuts (1/3 cup)
- 6 dry chili peppers
- .5 ounces fresh ginger (1/2 inch piece, thinly julienned)
- .4 ounces garlic (~2 large clove, minced)
- 2.5 ounces red bell pepper (~ 1/2 pepper)
- 2.5 ounces green bell pepper (~ 1/2 pepper)
- 1 scallion (chopped, for garnish)
- Dry the shrimp off well with paper towels and add them to a bowl along with the Shaoxing and soy sauce. Mix well and then add the potato starch, mixing well to coat the shrimp evenly.
- To make the sauce, combine the dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine, black vinegar, doubanjiang, sugar, potato starch and black pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the oil and peanuts to a frying pan and roast over high heat until the peanuts start to brown.
- Add the dried chilies and fry for a few more seconds or until the chilies become fragrant.
- Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.
- Add the bell peppers and stir-fry until bright, but not fully cooked.
- Add the marinated shrimp and toss and stir-fry until they are cooked through.
- Add the sauce and toss until the sauce thickens and everything is evenly coated.
- Plate the Kung Pao Shrimp and garnish with the chopped scallions.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.