Authentic Chinese restaurant-style Sichuan shrimp is quick enough for a weeknight meal and delivers a crispy texture and richly aromatic, utterly divine flavor with that signature Sichuan spice.
Sichuan Shrimp: Intensely Enjoyable
Food from Sichuan province is such a treat if you’re into bold flavors. The aromatics that go into Sichuan dishes always have me salivating. The chile peppers, tingly peppercorns, and fermented umami bomb of doubanjiang combine for a zesty and irresistible experience.
This simple Sichuan shrimp stir fry gives you all that flavor in an easy-to-make way.
Making authentic tasting Sichuan shrimp stir fry requires a few special ingredients. If you cook Sichuan often, you probably already have all the ingredients on hand and ready to go. Give it a try and it may become your new favorite shrimp dish!
Chinese dried chili peppers
This recipe uses the most common Sichuan chilis – Facing Heaven. They’re medium spicy and full of fruity taste with a beautiful red color. If you cannot find them, you can replace them with Korean dried chili peppers, which are mild enough so your dish won’t become too spicy.
Sichuan peppercorn is the key ingredient in many Sichuan recipes and it gives the dish a numbing tingling sensation. The peppercorns themselves are not spicy at all. The Mala Market carries the freshest Sichuan peppercorns sourced directly from Sichuan. It’s the ingredient that I always keep on hand. You can’t miss this ingredient if you like dishes such as Dan Dan Noodles.
Another key ingredient in Sichuan cooking. Doubanjiang a super rich, spicy, and salty paste made from fermented broad beans and chili peppers. It’s the key ingredient for Mapo Tofu, and you can use it in veggie stew and soup to easily add umami to a dish. You can find it at any Chinese grocery store or online.
Once you’re done prepping, your table should have the ingredients below:
To make Sichuan shrimp, all it takes is a quick marinade. Then you shallow-fry the shrimp until they get a nice, light and crispy texture on the outside. Then you stir fry it with chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, and plenty of aromatics. All these ingredients unite to give you an incredible, rich taste.
Remember to Deseed the Peppers
In this Sichuan shrimp dish, you’ll be using cut and seeded dried Chinese Sichuan chili peppers. This will give your shrimp lots of aroma and flavor but without being too spicy. If you’d prefer a spicy shrimp with sauce, you can try making my chili garlic shrimp sometime too!
A Shortcut if You Need It
It only takes 30 minutes in total to make Sichuan Shrimp, but if you want an even easier method, you can skip the shallow frying and simply pan fry the shrimp instead. You’ll still have outstanding and authentic flavor, the kind that makes Sichuan province so revered for its cuisine.
Make Sichuan Shrimp Into a Meal
While you cook this, you can steam white rice and blanch some green veggies to serve with it. You can also make an exciting presentation for date-night-at-home by plating it on individual bowls of steamed white rice with those blanched veggies. A side salad also works too if you just want to keep your vegetables separate. Any way that you serve it, you’re in for a quick and easy meal that looks and tastes luxurious!
Sichuan Shrimp Stir Fry
- 1 lb (450 g) shrimp , peeled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup dried Chinese chili peppers (*Footnote 1)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or enough to cover the shrimp halfway ) (*Footnote 2)
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 ” (1 cm) ginger , minced
- 1 green onion , whites minced, greens sliced for garnish
- 2 teaspoons Doubanjiang
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
- Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and transfer them to a medium-sized bowl. Add the light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch. Toss to coat well. Marinate for 15 minutes.
- Cut the chilis into 1/2” pieces and place in a colander that has holes big enough to have the chili seeds fall through. Shimmy the colander above a big plate to separate some of the seeds from the chilis. Set aside the deseeded chilis for the cooking and discard the seeds.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the shrimp. Let cook without moving for 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottom turns golden. Flip to cook the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes, until turning golden and the shrimp are fully curled up. Transfer the shrimp to a big plate and set aside.
- Turn to low heat. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan by pouring the oil into a bowl, or use a few layers of paper towels held in a pair of tongs to wipe the pan.
- Turn to medium-low heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onion. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the doubanjiang. Stir and cook for a minute.
- Add the dried chilis, sichuan peppercorns, and peanuts. Continue to cook and stir for another minute, or until the chilis turn dark brown but are not burned.
- Add back the shrimp. Toss thoroughly to coat well. Immediately transfer everything to a serving plate.
- Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish. (*Footnote 3)
- This recipe separates the chili pepper seeds and discards them, so the final dish will be spicy (but not outrageous spicy), and it will have an authentic look with a more fragrant taste. If you do not wish to use so much chili pepper, you can 1/4 cup of chili peppers, cut them into halves and reserve the seeds. For a milder dish, use 1/4 to 1/2 cup chili peppers (depending on the spice level you’re looking for) and do not cut them.
- The recipe uses enough oil to cover halfway up the shrimp to give it a light crispy texture but not as crispy as deep fried. You can use less oil as well, but the shrimp will not be crispy.
- Do not eat the chili peppers or Sichuan peppercorns.
Quick & Easy Sides to Pair with the Sichuan Shrimp
- 4-Ingredient Baby Bok Choy
- Bean Sprout Stir Fry
- Hot & Sour Sauteed Cabbage
- Egg Drop Soup
- Chinese Pickled Cucumber (A Quick Pickle Recipe)
More Delicious Shrimp Recipes
Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.
Questions and Reviews
This may be silly, but why shouldn’t I eat the chilis and if I grind the peppercorns is that going to change the flavor?
It’s very common in China to not eat the dried chili peppers because they are quite dry and the texture is not that good.
You can ground the Sichuan peppercorns, but you should reduce it to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, otherwise it will end up quite pungent.
I’m excited to try this recipe but I’m wondering how I can possibly avoid eating the peppercorns (as you suggest) once they’re added to the dish? Kind of a bummer to ask my friends to pick them out one by one.
You can ground 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and use the powder instead (should yield about 1/4 teaspoon loosely packed powder).
This was great. I had just ordered Sichuan peppers from Amazon and I always have Sichuan peppercorns and Doubanjian (Ming Teh Doubanjian Broad Bean Paste with Chili) on hand. The directions were spot on. This is a do-again 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
Loved the taste and texture. I cut the chillis open as I like the spice and was amazing
I learned a great deal from my friend and chef from Taiwan who gathered our dedicated group at her home in NH to teach our same group every week cooking lessons in the Art of Sichuan cuisine. Up until then, my favorite flavors were those of Canton Province. Many of us students learned how to cook tantalizing dishes some of which you show in this food blog. She would prepare 3 courses and a dessert to no more than 6 of us at a time and showed us how to cook many of the same dishes you show here. I miss those days long-gone now. It’s great to have found your food blog. At the end of our class, we had dinner after which each of us was handed a printed copy of the recipe cooked before us that day/night. I have kept them all in a loose-leaf folder and hope that at least one of my grandchildren will learn to cook and love these dishes as much as I have. Thanks very much!
This was pretty good. Rather than deal with removing individual peppercorns, we just ground them and added at the very end. We used 1 tsp and actually found it fairly mild. We also only used 1/2 cup dried chilis and, again, found it very mild. Next time I’dd add the full cup of chillies and go with 1.5 tsp of ground Sichuan peppercorn. Our shrimp never turned golden, just pink.