Authentic Kung Pao Prawns

Say goodbye to Chinese takeaways! This sweet and spicy Kung pao Prawns is a winner all the way.

Chinese cuisine has become an integral part of my culinary journey purely due to its simplicity and Kung Pao Prawns have always been a personal favorite. I grew up on an island with a lot of prawn farms or chemeen kettu as it is locally known and developed a love for seafood at an early age. And there is certainly something irreplaceable about biting into a prawn oozing with flavour.

I would also like to clear up the difference between prawns and shrimp. While prawns are fresh water bred, shrimps breed in sea water. Unless you are a connoisseur of prawns it is quite difficult to spot the difference, but I typically use only prawns for the hint of sweetness it brings.

So, here’s how to make this sweet and spicy Chinese dish in just a few steps.

1) Mix the ingredients for the marinade.

2) Let the prawns marinate for 30 min.

3) Fry the prawns

4) Fry onions, peppers, cashews and chillies.

5) Make the Kung Pao sauce.

6) Fry garlic and ginger. Simmer fried prawns in Kung Pao sauce.

7) Top shrimps with fried veg mix and serve warm.

What to serve with this restaurant style Kung Pao prawns

Serve this spicy dish with plain rice or fried rice. Or toss with some stir fried noodles for an easy chowmein.

Authentic Kung Pao Prawns

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 30 mins Servings: 4


I want to let you in on a secret to becoming a great chef- it is all about the ingredients. Once you get your hands on succulent bouncy prawns, fresh chicken stock for the sauce and freshly grated ginger garlic, you are on your way to mastering this recipe. Now just follow the steps and tips for a magnificent dish, which you can also follow along here!


For Marinade

For Frying

For Kung Pao Sauce

For Stir Fry


  1. Wash and pat the dry cleaned and deveined prawns.

  2. Mix all the ingredients for marinade in a bowl. Coat the shrimps well in the marinade and let it rest for a min of 30 min.

  3. Add 1 tbsp of cornflour into the shrimps. Heat a heavy bottom wide pan. Add a few tbsp. of sesame oil, fry prawns on high flame, turning them once one side is browned. Once the shrimps are fried on both sides, transfer to a dish.

  4.  Add 1 tbsp of oil if needed and stir fry onions for a few min, followed by peppers, cashews and chillies. Keep it aside.

  5. Mix the ingredients for Kung Pao sauce in a bowl. Now add a few tbsp. of oil if needed into the hot pan and fry 1 tbsp of grated ginger and 2 tbsp of grated garlic. Add fried prawns and fry on high flame for a few min, followed by the Kung Pao sauce. Simmer on low flame for a few min until the shrimps are well coated in the sauce. Bring the flame to high and fry the prawns for a few min. Top it with stir fried vegetable mix and stir to combine.

    Serve warm.


DEVEINING PRAWNS- Pull the head and peel the outer shell. Make a small cut at the back, lift the vein and pull the vein that runs along the back. If the vein breaks, make a small cut below and pull the rest. Wash three to four times in water and drain.

SALT- No additional salt is needed in the recipe as soy and chilli paste contains salt. Remember to use low sodium soy sauce.

SPICES- Red chilli paste which is available in bottles in supermarkets is used in this recipe. Fresh Indian garlic and ginger is preferred for its flavor. I used homemade fresh chicken stock in my recipes for its flavor and health benefits. Refer to my recipe for chicken stock. Use whole dried red chillies to add heat to the dish without making it overly spicy.

Optional- 1tsp of dark brown sugar can be added to Kung Pao sauce for a slightly sweeter version.

Keywords: Chinese cuisine, prawns, seafood recipe
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