Chinese, Seafood, Side Dish

Braised Prawns Szechuan Style

What’s Chinese New Year without a prawn dish, right? I decided to try this simple recipe making use of chili bean paste, a spicy bean paste that’s famous in Szechuan cuisine. In Chinese it’s called 豆瓣醬 (toban jiang) and is made from broad beans instead of soy beans. This paste is easily available in Chinese sundry shop. I won’t be making Chinese New Year cookies this year but I might try my hand on huat kueh later. Will share if I achieve my expectation. My sis on the other hand might bake an old new cookie. It’s an old regular cookie recipe but we have not attempted it before so new for us. 🙂 Will share too if she really did make it. So let’s go back to this prawn recipe which is very easy to whip up.

Braised Prawns Szechuan Style
Lovely braised prawns dish!

Let’s cook.

Exposed Dark Vein of Prawn
Cut each prawn along its back to expose the dark brown vein using a pair of kitchen scissors. Remove the vein and rinse with cold water. Remember to leave the shell intact. Dry the prawns well with kitchen towel.

Cleaned Prawns
The recipe ask for king prawns but I’m only using medium sized prawns as they are the ones I have in the fridge. These are cleaned prawns.

Ginger, Garlic, Spring Onion
Chopped ginger and garlic finely. Background is chopped spring onion.

Fry Prawns
Heat oil in a wok and deep-fry the prawns until bright orange for about 2 minutes. Remove and drain. As you can see I didn’t deep-fry mine. I use little oil only. Blame my laziness okay? Hehe

Fried Prawns
Yummy prawns.

Chili Bean Paste - Toban Jiang
The main ingredient for this dish: Chili bean paste or toban jiang 豆瓣醬. Funnily this toban jiang is made from both broad beans and soy beans.

Chili Bean Paste - Toban Jiang
Oh mama… what a gorgeous looking chili bean paste. It smells so heavenly of the beans and chili.

Stir-fry Bean Paste
With 1 teaspoon of oil in the wok, stir-fry the chili bean paste for about 1 minute in low heat.

Braise Prawns in High Heat
Add prawns, ginger, garlic, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and stock (I use water instead because the toban jiang is quite salty already). Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Braise for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. Lastly add the rice vinegar. When most liquid has evaporated, add spring onions. Serve warm with coriander leaves as garnish. That’s it. Easy huh?

Braised Prawns Szechuan Style
Due to the chili bean paste, it’s a little bit salty. Thing is it’s not as spicy as I thought it would be. This dish is best eaten with rice.

Braised Prawns Szechuan Style
Best part of eating this dish? When you suck out all the juice trapped in the shell. Don’t worry if you’re making suckling sound. The Chinese won’t mind. 😉

Braised Prawns Szechuan Style
Adapted from The Chinese Kitchen by Deh-Ta Hsiung
Serves 4

300g uncooked and unpeeled king prawns with heads still attached
Oil for deep-frying
1 1/2 tablespoons chili bean paste (toban jiang)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
About 115ml stock (I use water instead since the bean paste is quite salty)
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon spring onion, chopped
coriander leaves to garnish, optional

1. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut each prawn along its back to expose the dark brown vein but leave the shell otherwise intact. Remove the vein and rinse with cold water. Dry the prawns well by patting with kitchen towel.

2. Heat the oil and deep-fry the prawns for about 2 minutes or until they are bright orange all over. Remove and drain. Note: I personally did shallow frying on these prawns only.

3. Pour off the excess oil, leaving about 1 teaspoonful in the wok. Stir-fry the chili bean paste for about 1 minute over low heat, then add the prawns with the ginger, garlic, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and water (or stock). Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Braise for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Stir in the vinegar. When most of the liquid has evaporated, add the spring onions. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves if using.


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  • Reply Angie (@angiesrecipess) January 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I love Sichuan flavours..pungent, spicy and loaded with flavours. Those braised prawns look mouthwatering. So are the photos!

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 19, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Angie, thank you 🙂

  • Reply Melissa Loh January 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Chinese New Year without a prawn dish is blasphemy! How spicy is the chilli bean paste?

    • Reply Che-Cheh January 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Hi Melissa, Oh yeah! 😉

      I would say not spicy at all. Just a tinge of spiciness. It’s more salty than spicy. Maybe this brand I’m using is that nature. Not sure about other brands.

  • Reply Sal May 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    I like ur recipes … so far ive tried the tofu diash and also assam prawns. I need suggestion on certain recipes which use rice wine, can i replace it with anything else?

    • Reply Che-Cheh May 30, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Sal, Thank you very much! You can replace rice wine with Shaoxing wine, white wine, sake or mirin (it’s sweet).

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