Salt and Pepper Prawns

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These salt and pepper prawns are great as part of an Asian meal platter or served up as a fantastic starter. Crispy and flavoursome, they also take only a few minutes to cook. If you’re a fan of salt and pepper flavour dishes then you can also check out this totally delicious salt and pepper chicken recipe.

Where is this recipe from?

Salt and pepper prawn (or shrimp) dishes are popular in many countries across Asia such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. I believe this recipe is most similar to a dish you would find in China, although I can’t claim that this is a strictly traditional recipe.

Salt and Pepper Prawns Recipe

How do you make the prawns crispy?

There are several things you can do to make sure you have crisp prawns for this dish, every time. Firstly, make sure the prawns are well coated in the cornflour/cornstarch. Secondly, the oil temperature is critical for success in this recipe. The prawns need to immediately sizzle when placed in the oil.

You need to make sure to maintain the temperature of the oil throughout the cooking process. Cook only a few prawns at a time and make sure to not overcrowd the pan. Each prawn you add will bring the temperature of the oil down a little. After removing each batch of prawns make sure that the oil has returned to the right temperature.

How do you prepare the prawns?

If you have got full prawns for this recipe then first remove the head and the shell. Break off the head and peel the shell from the remaining body. I prefer to leave the tails attached, but you can remove them too if you like.

How to de-vein a prawn

Next, remove the vein from the prawn. Simply cut a small slit in the back of the prawn and then you will see a black thin thread – use a small knife or toothpick to pull it smoothly out and discard.


For a full list of ingredients, you can jump to the printable recipe card below.

Salt and Pepper Prawns Ingredients
  • large uncooked prawns, peeled (with tail left on) and deveined
  • cornflour / cornstarch
  • oil
  • garlic, finely chopped
  • red and green chillis
  • spring onion
  • salt & pepper
  • Chinese 6 spice
  • lime (juice only)

How to make it

Recipe Steps
  1. First toss the prawns through the flour until fully coated all over.
  2. Heat the oil until 200C/400F. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer you can add a small pinch of the flour to the oil and if it simmers then it’s ready.
  3. Add the prawns to the oil one by one, shaking off any excess flour from each one before adding. If you are making more than two portions (or your pan is on the small side) then I suggest adding them in two or more batches. If you add too many then it will reduce the heat of the oil too much which will stop them from becoming crisp.
  4. Cook the prawns for 3-4 minutes and then remove carefully using a strainer or metal slotted spoon and place in a bowl lined with paper towel.
  5. Next add a teaspoon of the oil to a frying pan or wok and, when hot, add the garlic and chilli. Cook for around 1 minute and then add the spring onion and cook for a further minute. Add the prawns into the pan with the salt, pepper and five-spice and the lime juice and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  6. Serve with a dipping sauce such as sweet chilli. Yum!
Prawns with Salt and Pepper

If you are looking for other great Asian-inspired recipes then you might also like:

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Salt and Pepper Prawns

Salt and Pepper Prawns

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x


These salt and pepper prawns are unbelievably tasty and crispy. Plus they only take minutes to cook. They are a perfect starter option or addition to an Asian platter.

The default recipe serves two as a main or 3-4 as a starter.


  • 250g / 9oz large, uncooked prawns peeled (with tail left on) and deveined (see instructions in the main post)
  • 30 g / 1/4 cup cornflour/cornstarch
  • 250ml / 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large red chilli, sliced diagonally
  • 1 large green chilli, sliced diagonally
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, sliced (lighter part only)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 lime, juice only, plus extra wedges for serving


  1. First, place the prawns in a large bowl and tip over the cornflour/cornstarch. Mix together until the prawns are fully coated in the flour. 
  2. Next, add the oil to a large saucepan and bring to 200C/400F. Make sure that it is hot enough if you don’t have a kitchen thermometer by adding pinch of the flour and making sure that it sizzles as soon as it hits the oil.
  3. Carefully add the prawns to the oil using some kitchen tongs. Shake them gently before adding to the oil to remove any excess flour. Work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan and don’t bring the temperature of the oil down too much. 
  4. Carefully remove the cooked prawns from the pan with a strainer or metal tongs. Place on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any excess oil. 
  5. Heat a teaspoon of the oil in a frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute before adding the spring onion and cooking for a further minute. 
  6. Add the prawns, salt, pepper and 5 spice to the pan and squeeze in the lime juice. Cook for a further minute. 
  7. Serve with fresh lime wedges


  1. Note that the size of the chilli relates to how hot it is. The smaller it is the more heat it will pack. Therefore if you use a smaller chilli it will turn out hotter so you may want to use a smaller amount
  2. If you don’t have any 5 spice then you can substitute star anise (the main ingredient in 5 spice) or garam masala – or a mixture of both.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Asian


  • Serving Size: 1 (main)
  • Calories: 270
  • Fat: 21g
  • Carbohydrates: 21g
  • Protein: 20g

Keywords: prawns, seafood, asian, starter, main, chinese

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