Stir-Fried Prawns with Chinese Chives & Chilli

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This is simple and delicious; the chives and garlic add a wonderful flavour, and the complexity of the vinegar, chilli and sesame really makes this divine. It is worth chasing down the yellow Chinese chives if you can — they’re more subtle and sweet than the green and thus add an extra dimension. If you can’t, don’t panic. The yellow chives are actually blanched, like white asparagus, which means that they’ve been covered and don’t photosynthesise with sunlight, so they don’t turn green. If Chinese chives aren’t available, rinse and chop half a bunch of English spinach; it makes a worthy substitute.


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) green king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon julienned ginger
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 15 g (½ oz/½ bunch) yellow Chinese chives, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) lengths
  • 15 g (½ oz/½ bunch) green Chinese chives, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) lengths
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


Heat the wok until just smoking. Add 3 tablespoons of peanut oil and, when hot, add the prawns in two batches and stir-fry until half cooked. Remove from the wok — make sure you don’t overcook the prawns at this stage.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok and return to the heat. Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chilli flakes until fragrant. Add the chives and fresh chilli and then return the prawns to the wok.

Deglaze with the shaoxing and add the soy sauce, vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. At this point the chives should be softened and the prawns heated through. Spoon the prawns and chives onto a plate and drizzle with sesame oil to serve.