Stir-fried Prawns with Oyster Sauce


Oyster sauce undoubtedly originated in south China kitchens. But when Chinese travellers brought it to Thailand, Thai chefs immediately recognized its rich and savoury virtues and integrated it into the Thai cuisine, especially in fish and seafood meals. And, of course, they embellished it by adding their own native spices and aromatic seasonings, as in this recipe. Very Thai, but with China in the background.


  • 450 g (1 lb) raw prawns
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut (peanut oil)
  • 2 small fresh red or green Thai chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander


Peel the prawns and discard the shells. Using a small sharp knife, remove the fine digestive cord. Rinse the prawns in cold water and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Peel the lemongrass stalks to the tender whitish centre, crush with flat of a knife and finely chop them.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the prawns and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Reheat the wok, add the lemongrass, chillies, garlic and shallots, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then return the prawns to the wok, add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and shrimp paste, and continue to stir-fry for 4 minutes. Finally, add the fresh coriander and give the mixture a good stir, then turn onto a platter and serve at once.