Easy Prawns with Crispy Mangetouts

This was a very popular dish at our family restaurant. It could be prepared in minutes in our hot woks, so our customers were able to order and enjoy their dish without much waiting. Mangetouts, with their sweet taste and crispy texture, make a nice contrast to the soft and succulent prawn. A relatively rare vegetable and perceived as an exotic ingredient in the 1960s, mangetouts are today a staple in the local supermarket.

This altogether delectable dish is as easy to make at home as it was to prepare for our ‘take-away’ customers.


  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 450 g (1 lb) raw king or tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 225 g (8 oz) mangetouts, trimmed
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) Chinese Chicken Stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons water


Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and gently wash the prawns in the salt water. Drain and repeat the process. Then rinse the prawns under cold running water, drain and blot them dry with kitchen paper.

Mix the prawns with the egg white, cornflour, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of salt in a medium-sized bowl, then refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and then add the groundnut oil. When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately add the coated prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn slightly pink, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Reserve tablespoons of the oil and discard the rest.

Reheat the wok over a high heat and, when it is hot, add the reserved oil. Immediately toss in the ginger and garlic to stir-fry for 10 seconds. Quickly toss in the mangetouts, 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, rice wine, spring onions, chicken stock and sugar. Continue to stir-fry for another minute, then add the cornflour mixture and continue to cook for still another minute. Now toss in the prawns. When they are reheated thoroughly, stir in the remaining sesame oil. Serve at once with plain rice.


As a substitute for mangetouts, you can use frozen peas, sweetcorn, asparagus, sugar snap peas, or fresh water chestnuts.