Special Salt Prawns with Crispy Garlic, Onions & Chilli


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

My Street Food Kitchen

My Street Food Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2015

  • About
Preparation: 20 Minutes
Cooking: 10 Minutes

The special salt in these prawns is made up of the umami flavours of sichuan peppercorns and chillies which create a slightly numbing effect on the tongue. Sichuan peppercorns are not actually a peppercorn but a flower bud. When combined with chilli, they are a powerful flavouring for stir-fries or fried food.


  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh long red chillies, cut into 1 cm (⅜ inch) slices
  • 24 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves and chopped spring onions (scallions), to serve

Special salt

  • 2 teaspoons sichuan peppercorns
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • large pinch of chilli flakes
  • 30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)

Chilli dipping sauce

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 large dried chilli, or sliced fresh chilli
  • 2 teaspoons soft brown sugar
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce


To make the special salt, toast the sichuan and black peppercorns in a small dry frying pan over medium heat for 1 minute or until fragrant. Allow to cool, then finely grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Pour into a bowl and stir in the salt, chilli flakes and cornflour.

To make the dipping sauce, crush the garlic and chilli in a mortar and pestle or finely chop together and transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, then check the balance of flavours. It should taste sweet, salty and spicy: adjust if necessary.

Heat 7.5 cm (3 inches) of vegetable oil in a large wok or large heavy-based saucepan. When a piece of bread dropped into the oil sizzles quickly, the oil is ready. Have a slotted spoon and a tray lined with paper towel ready by the wok. Add the garlic and chilli and stir for 20 seconds or until light golden. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on one end of the paper towel. Toss the prawns in the special salt, shake off the excess and deep-fry, in batches, for 1-2 minutes or until crisp at the edges and starting to curl. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel.

Serve the fried prawns in lettuce leaves, scattered with the fried garlic and chilli, with the chopped spring onion in a bowl of the dipping sauce.