Salt and pepper shrimp (椒盐虾) is a crowd favorite Cantonese dish for those who love anything salty and crunchy (like well-done fries or potato chips)! The salt and pepper mixture is great on a number of proteins such as salt and pepper squid, salt and pepper tofu, and salt and pepper pork ribs.
The great thing about salt and pepper dishes is that there's one tried and true formula. Lightly batter the protein with a starch, such as potato starch, cornstarch or tapioca starch. Fry in shallow oil, and then sprinkle over the salt and pepper mixture. The recipe is relatively simple but the dish looks incredibly impressive!
Ingredients for salt and pepper shrimp
- Whole peppercorns
- Shaowing wine
- Vegetable oil or any neutral oil for frying
- Whole shrimp (deveined) - I always have frozen shrimp and it doesn't affect the quality. Feel free to use fresh shrimp, too. I prefer using the whole shrimp because the head is always the tastiest part for me! However, you are free to remove the heads if that's what you're comfortable with.
- Green chili pepper - Feel free to sub with red chili pepper if that's what you have on hand. You are also free to use both as aromatics.
- Toast the whole peppercorns and salt in a pan on low heat. Keep close watch and stir every now and then. You'll know the mixture is ready when the salt starts to darken (the color will change from white to yellow) and the peppercorn will start to release a smoky aroma.
- Remove from heat and move to a pestle and mortar. Grind well! If you don't have a pestle or mortar, you can use a coffee grinder or put the mixture in a plastic bag and lightly beat with a rolling pin. You could try a food processor, but the salt and peppercorns might be too small for the blades.
- Wash and devein your shrimp. The black vein runs down the back of the shrimp. Use a fork to puncture the shell and pull out this "vein" which is technically its digestive tract. Pat dry.
- Add Shaoxing wine and then toss the shrimp with cornstarch.
- Heat up a neutral oil in a pan. Place shrimp in one layer on the pan and ensure that the shrimps are not touching one another.
- Fry shrimp for 30-40 seconds on each side or until shrimp is fully orange. Remove from heat and set aside on a paper towel to drain some of the oil.
- Use the leftover oil and fry the minced garlic until golden brown. Toss the shrimp back in with the garlic for 10 seconds. Turn off heat.
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper mixture over the shrimp and toss so shrimp is well-coated. You can add the mixture to taste, but I would recommend around 1 tsp.
- Add in the minced green chili peppers. Toss and serve!
A pestle and mortar works best! However, if you don't have one, you can place the toasted mixture into a plastic bag (such as a Ziploc bag) and beat lightly with a rolling pin.
You can use either! I always have frozen shrimp on hand so I make sure to defrost before I make this dish. Fresh shrimp works just as well.
There is a "vein" that runs down the back of the shrimp which is actually its digestive tract. To be fair, there have been times that I've prepared a shrimp dish without removing these. I don't believe they present any health concerns, but I know many prefer to devein the shrimp.
Use a pair of kitchen scissors or a fork to lightly puncture the shell of the shrimp along the "spine". You'll see a dark vein-- use a thin, sharp tip to pull the vein out.
There are variation of this dish. Some people like to use Sichuan peppercorns which will make this dish a lot spicier, so for those who want a real kick, you can use the Sichuan variety. However, I use the common black peppercorn. The differences shouldn't change the dish too much!
Yes! You can use red chili pepper or use both green and red to add more color. You can also chop up some green onion (scallions) to add to the dish at the very end.
What are other shrimp recipes?
Shrimp is an amazing protein for those who are looking to reduce their red meat consumption! Try this 10 minute shrimp and egg stir fry or get a little hands on and wrap these shrimp dumplings.
Salt and Pepper Shrimp
Salt and Pepper Mix
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorn
- ½ tablespoon salt
Rest of Dish
- 450 g whole shrimp (deveined)
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (sub with dry sherry or rice wine)
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 green chili pepper
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Toast whole peppercorn and salt in a pan over low heat. Stir from time to time. Take off heat when the salt starts to darken and you can smell the fragrance of the peppercorn.
- Remove from heat and let cool for a minute. Grind in a pestle and mortar.
- If you're using whole shrimp, devein and wash shrimp. Put shrimp dry and place in a bowl.
- Add Shaoxing wine to shrimp and then toss shrimp with cornstarch.
- Heat oil in a pan. Lay shrimp in pan in one layer so they are not touching each other. Fry for 30-40 seconds on each side. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel.
- Place pan back on heat and fry garlic until golden brown. Toss shrimp back in and stir-fry for 10 more seconds.
- Turn off heat and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper mix or to taste. Add in minced green chili pepper.
This shrimp was SO GOOD!!
Andréa Janssen says
An easy recipe full of flavor! Thanks for sharing
One of my all-time favourites, simple salt and pepper shrimp! It's so delicious and easy to make, and always a winner with a crowd!
Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!
Perfect, quick, and easy for a weeknight meal. Most of the time, I eat whole shrimps because I agree that the head is so good!
HEATHER PERINE says
Such an easy and delicious dinner recipe! Love the bold flavors...will definitely make again!
I'm going to make this tomorrow for lunch. I have all the ingredients, and this looks absolutely amazing. I love the flavors. I can't wait to give it a try! Thanks!
Yum! I hope you enjoy!
We love this recipe and will be making it again. Delicious and simple. Thank you!
I loved this! I air fryed the shrimp once it was coated in the seasoning for 6 minutes and it was delicious.
Ooh, that's a great way to fry without all the extra oil. Love that suggestion!
Such a delicious recipe for shrimp - they are full of flavour and absolutely mouthwatering. I love a recipe that produces such fantastic results but doesn't have a super long list of ingredients. Will make again for sure!
This was super easy to make and absolutely delicious!!
This looks so mouthwatering! Definitely making for dinner!
This was delicious! My family loved it. Definitely going to be on rotation in my house.
Simple and delicious recipe
Mama Maggie's Kitchen says
This dish looks so deliciously good. I wish I could eat that right this minute!
This shrimp is SO flavorful and easy to make! We loved it! Will definitely be making again!
Amy Liu Dong says
Seeing this dish makes my mouth watering. I love it, and I am so excited to make this today.
Marisa F. Stewart says
This is exactly the way shrimp should be cooked. Simply. I made it your way with the addition of the pepper. So good and the shrimp had the natural sweet taste with the texture of a little lobster. Excellent.
The shrimp came out really great! Your recipe is easy and fuss-free; the whole meal was terrific. Thanks so much for the recipe; we will definitely make them again.
Jacqueline Debono says
This is a super way to cook shrimp, fast, simple and yet full of flavour. My hubby loved it so will be making this salt and pepper shrimp again very soon!
Moop Brown says
This shrimp looks seasoned so well and has my mouth watering. I also really appreciate how straightforward and easy to make this recipe is.
Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer says
These are incredible and so easy! This is a must-make and a perfect example of a recipe where you do not need a million ingredients to make pure deliciousness! Thank you so much for sharing!
Loreto and Nicoletta says
I love this dish. The shrimp look crispy and so well seasoned. I just want to grab ob and bite in. My mouth is honestly watering. I an surely going to try this. The only question is what protein? Mmmmmmm wings!😋🥰👍👌❤ Thanks for sharing!❤🤗