Salt and Pepper Prawns

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 4-5 Minutes

This popular starter from Hong Kong uses raw green prawns. You can find frozen raw prawns that are shelled and ready-peeled in the supermarkets these days. In this recipe, the prawns are not peeled before being cooked, because this keeps them moist and succulent.


  • 450g (1 lb) small raw unpeeled prawns, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 450 ml (14 fl oz) groundnut (peanut) oil


  • 2 fresh chillies, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Maldon sea salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions


  • handful fresh coriander sprigs (optional)


  1. If using frozen prawns, defrost fully. Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and gently wash the prawns in the salted water. Drain, and repeat the process, using a fresh bowl of water and the remaining salt. Drain again. Remove the feathery legs from the prawns and discard. Blot dry with kitchen paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the seasoning and set aside.
  3. Heat a wok over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the prawns and deep-fry for about 1 minute or until they are slightly pink. Remove them immediately with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain well on kitchen paper.
  4. Pour off all the oil and reheat the wok. When it is hot and slightly smoking, add the seasoning mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Return the prawns to the wok and stir-fry over high heat for about 2 minutes or until the spices have thoroughly coated their outer shells.
  6. Turn onto a warm serving platter, garnish with the coriander if using and serve at once. This quick starter can be also be served as a main course in itself.