Kung po or pao prawns is a wonderfully spicy Chinese takeaway favourite that fizzes with Szechuan pepper and is easy to cook at home!
It’s also very quick, it takes around 10 minutes to prepare and all of that can be done in advance, then it takes less than 10 minutes to cook. There ain’t a delivery driver beating that!
Kung Pao Shrimp
I love me a good fakeaway dish, my site is littered with them and good British Chinese dishes are some of my favourites to cook.
My latest offering is a classic British Chinese interpretation of kung po (pao) king prawns.
A delicious stir fry that combines jumbo shrimp in a salty almost sweet sauce loaded with dried chillies, Szechuan pepper and peanuts.
It’s a super quick and simple recipe that shares much in common with my take on Szechuan prawns.
You’ll love this recipe, it’s delicious, and indulgent and will go from your fridge/freezer in right around 20 minutes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What size prawns or shrimp do you use?
You want some big old prawns for this recipe, I use size 8-12 prawns. The sizing refers to how many prawns you get per pound (with the shell and head on).
Can I use frozen prawns?
Absolutely, I only ever use prawns from the freezer and I never defrost them before I am ready to cook either.
I just drop them in a colander and run some cold water over them whilst I prepare the remaining ingredients.
I can’t find toasted peanuts, what’s the best way to toast them?
If I need to toast peanuts I put them in a tray and cook them in an air fryer at 180°C or 350°F for 6-8 minutes giving them a shake every 2 minutes.
You can roast them in the oven but that has a huge energy cost for so little produce. Instead I would toast them in a dry wok, but you need to keep them moving all of the time or they will burn.
Can I sub out the Szechuan pepper with anything else?
No Szechuan pepper is absolutely unique and it has no comparable alternative.
Rice is the obvious thing to serve with these kung po king prawns, and they are pictured here served with my take on egg-fried rice.
But there is plenty of flaovur in that sauce so you could easily get away with plain steamed or boiled rice!
If you want to go full-on British Chinese takeaway style how about some salt and pepper chips?
Don’t forget the prawn crackers and shrimp toast!
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- Colander or sieve to defrost the prawns if required.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Kitchen paper.
- A method to toast the peanuts if you do not buy toasted nuts. You can use an air fryer, oven or in the wok.
I love cooking Chinese takeaway-style dishes at home, they are quick delicious and really easy, my latest is a glorious spicy kung po or kung pao king prawns with peanuts.
- 350g (12-14) Jumbo King Prawns
- 50g (¼ Cup) Toasted Peanuts
- ½ Tbsp Szechuan Pepper
- 3 Spring Onions
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 10 Small (1cm or ½") Dried Red Chilli Peppers
- 1 Fresh medium Hot Red Chilli Pepper
- Pinch White Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
For the Kung Po Sauce:
- 2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- ½ Tbsp Dark Soy Sace
- 1 Tbsp Chinkiang Vinegar
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- 1 Tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- Pinch of MSG
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 1 Tsp Cornflour
- If your prawns are frozen place them in a colander and run them under cold water until they are defrosted, this should take 4-5 minutes.
- If your peanuts are not toasted, toast them in a dry wok, oven, or air fryer.
- Heat a wok over a high heat and toast the Szechuan pepper for 1-2 minutes then transfer them to a pestle and mortar or spice grinder then crush them.
- Slice the spring onions as finely as you can.
- Peel and dice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
- Remove the seed from the fresh chilli pepper and dice it as finely as you can.
- Dry the prawns well before stir-frying them
- Mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce.
- Heat a wok over a fierce heat and when it is shimmering add the cooking oil followed by the prawns and dried chilli peppers and stir fry for 60-90 seconds.
- Throw in the fresh chilli, garlic and spring onions (reserving a few for garnish) and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the toasted peanuts, szechuan pepper, white pepper and toss everything together to coat, then pour in the sauce and cook for a final 60-90 seconds.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 535Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 369mgSodium: 3073mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 48g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.