Chinese kung pao shrimp recipe with juicy succulent prawns and crisp peppers, tossed in a savory, tangy, and little spicy kung pao sauce. This is a keto/GF/Paleo/Whole30 take on the famous Chinese dish!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword Chinese kung pao shrimp, kung pao prawns, kung pao shrimp, kung pao shrimp recipe, kung po shrimp, Paleo kung pao shrimp, Whole30 kung pao shrimp
In a large bowl, butterfly the shrimp by making a shallow slice from the back, using a small paring knife. Pat them dry and season with garlic powder and white pepper. Set it in the fridge while you prepare other ingredients.
Prepare garlic, ginger, peppercorns, and dry chilis in one plate. You can use the dry chilis in whole or cut them open with a kitchen scissors and shake out the seeds. Prepare the scallions and bell peppers on a separate plate. Stir-well the kung pao sauce in a bowl.
Preheat a wok or large stir-fry pan over medium heat until it feels hot when placing your palm near, about 2-3 inches away. Add 2 tbsp oil. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Distribute the shrimp in a single layer and don’t touch for 1 minute then use a spatula to flip and cook for an additional minute. Transfer them to a plate along with the juice in the skillet. Your skillet shouldn’t be watery.
Use the same skillet/wok, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp oil. Saute then garlic/ginger/peppercorn/chilis with a pinch of salt for about 10 seconds.
Turn heat up to medium-high, add the bell peppers and scallions. Season with another pinch of salt. Saute for 10 more seconds.
Return the shrimp and nuts to the wok. Stir the sauce again before adding it to the stir-fry. Toss to combine, about 10-15 seconds.
Serve hot over steamed rice or cauliflower rice.
Sichuan Peppercorns I used them in whole (1 tsp) in the recipe. Some people use them grind (Sichuan peppercorn powder) or in combination (whole + grind). If using powder, start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste. Workaround - Sichuan peppercorns make Kung pao shrimp taste extra special and authentic. If, however, you are making this dish in a hurry without the peppercorns or if you prefer to make it more kid-friendly, try using one whole lemon zest.Chinese Dried Chilis They aren’t meant to be eaten! The whole point of using the dry chilis is to add a little bit of heat from the exterior of the peppers but without overpowering. There are two ways to use them -
Use them whole. It adds a touch of heat and color to the dish.
Use them cut open with seeds removed. Cut them open with a kitchen scissors and shake out the seeds before adding them to the stir-fry. I use this method for today’s shrimp kung pao. See photos above in the post.
Workaround - I’ve seen people using dried chile de arbol peppers in the States. You cut them open and shake out the seeds. Personally I haven’t tried this pepper yet but people told me they found success using this Mexican chili. Alternatively, you can use a few pinches of red chile flakes (like the ones you sprinkle over pizza). To make kung pao shrimp non-spicy, use red bell peppers. Dice them to small cubes.Sichuan Chili oil. I found a good store-bought version so to save time this is the chili oil jar I use. If you like spicy food, it’s a great jar of chili oil to have. It makes the dish taste extra authentic.