When you think of Asian prawn recipes, then it’s normally because you’re after a Chinese takeaway – whether it’s with noodles, rice or just on their own. One of the most popular dishes from my dad’s Chinese restaurant was crispy prawns that had been deep-fried and tossed in garlic and chilli with salt and pepper.
Whenever I eat crispy prawns [crispy shrimp], it always feels like a decadent treat. With a golden brown crispy coating and an irresistible crunch, every seafood lover is going to love this recipe. So you don’t need to go to Chinese restaurants for crispy king prawns when you can make them easily at home. The only thing I can’t promise you is you won’t devour the whole lot in one sitting!
What prawns/shrimp to use
For the best results, you want to try and use medium-sized raw king prawns or jumbo prawns that have been peeled and deveined. You can even use tiger prawns and keep the tip of the tail on. If you can get the best-sized prawns for your budget all the better – however, if you can only stretch to smaller prawns, then that’s fine, they just won’t have as much of a bite.
How to achieve the perfect crunch
For these garlic and chilli crispy prawns, I use a simple batter that combines egg whites and corn flour [corn starch], and I find that this works well for these golden fried prawns, as the batter is light and crispy.
Alternatives to corn flour batter?
You can make these crispy chilli garlic prawns by dipping them in egg yolk and panko breadcrumbs – but bear in mind the crispy coating will be a different texture to the Asian crispy shrimps recipe card below. Panko breadcrumbs give a coarser crunch, and won’t be as delicate or as light.
Ingredients for this crispy fried prawns recipe
peeled raw prawns/ raw shrimp – they can be jumbo prawns or even smaller prawns
2 egg whites, beaten
vegetable oil for frying
2 garlic cloves
1 red or green chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
How to make crispy prawns
The first thing to do is fire up a deep fryer if you’re using it. Otherwise, pour approximately 5cm/2ins of vegetable oil into a wok or large pot, then heat it until the temperature reaches 180°c/350F.
While the oil is heating, add the prawns to a large bowl and combine the peeled jumbo prawns with beaten egg whites, ensuring the prawns are thoroughly coated. Add cornflour/cornstarch and mix until it forms a thin batter-like consistency.
Now the prawns are ready to fry. Working in batches, add the coated prawns to the hot oil. Fry each batch for 3-4 minutes, turning the shrimp with a slotted spoon or tongs. This process ensures each prawn gets an even golden brown colour. Keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn. Place the fried shrimp on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. If you have smaller prawns, then they will need less time frying – around 1-2 minutes only.
Prepare the seasoning
While the last batch of prawns fries, use a pestle and mortar to grind garlic and chilli with salt and pepper. Transfer this mixture to a small frying pan over high heat, and dry fry for 1-2 minutes to release the aromatic flavours. The smell will be so fragrant.
Then in a bowl, toss the crispy prawns with the seasoning mix, ensuring each prawn is thoroughly coated. This step adds an extra layer of flavour to the crispy prawns. Finally, serve the crispy prawns hot, accompanied by your favourite sauce – whether it’s a sweet chilli, hot chilli oil and soy sauce, or even mayonnaise.
Can you use alternative seasoning?
Absolutely. I often adapt the garlic and chilli seasoning to make salt and pepper prawns instead. If you follow the same steps for crispy prawns, then instead of grinding garlic with chilli, omit the chilli, and just mix the garlic with the salt and pepper before tossing the crispy prawns. This is a perfect combination if you don’t like spicy food.
Can I use alternatives to prawns?
Yes, calamari or squid would work well, or even sliced pieces of white fish like cod or haddock. I even have a salt and pepper chicken wings version.
What to serve with these fried chilli prawns with garlic
Can these prawns be reheated?
I would suggest eating these crispy prawns freshly made – as the coating will lose its crispiness and the prawns won’t be so tender. However, if you do have any leftovers, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Or you can freeze them for up to three months. Reheat by placing them on a baking tray and cooking them in a preheated oven for around 10-12 minutes.
Fancy other Chinese recipes to try?
Chinese steamed spare ribs
Chinese air fryer prawn toast
Air fryer crispy chicken wings
Air fryer char siu pork recipe
Poached Chinese chicken
Spring onion noodles
Chinese chicken curry
Easy crispy prawns with garlic and chilli
- 500 g of peeled raw king prawns or prawns of your choice
- 150 g of cornflour
- 2 egg whites beaten
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 red or green chilli sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Pour the vegetable oil into a wok or large pot so there is at least 5cm/2in of oil, then heat it on a medium heat until the temperature reaches 180°c/350F. Or you can also use a deep fat fryer for this recipe.
- In a large bowl, add the prawns to the egg whites and coat them well.
- Next, add the cornflour and mix it thoroughly with your hands - the consistency will feel like a thin batter.
- Once the oil is ready, add the coated prawns to the oil - a few at a time - and fry the batches for 3-4 minutes, turning the prawns regularly, with a slotted spoon or tongs.
- Once the battered prawns have a lovely golden brown colour, take them out and put them on kitchen towels to drain, while you continue to fry the other batches.
- As the last batch fries, add the chopped garlic and chilli with the salt and pepper to a mortar and, using a pestle, grind these together. If you don't have a pestle and mortar, you can use a bowl and the back of a spoon.
- Heat a small frying pan on a high heat, then transfer the salt, pepper, garlic, and chilli mixture into the pan. Dry fry the spices for 1 or 2 minutes to release the flavours.
- Finally, in a bowl, toss the prawns with the garlic and chilli mix, thoroughly coating the crispy prawns.
- Serve the prawns hot with hot chilli oil or sweet chilli sauce.