Sweet and Sour Prawns

Sweet and Sour PrawnsSweet and Sour Prawns are a take-away favourite but I think you’d be hard pushed to find ones as nice as these and they take no time at all! I made the, possibly unpopular, decision to skip the batter and deep fryer because this sauce already does pack a lot of calories in the form of all that sugar and I wanted to keep this on the lighter side. Plus, I already deep-fried something last week and bodies like mine don’t just happen! (Anyone who knows me, or has at least seen me will have laughed at that.) If you don’t care about calories, I like your style, and you can just batter and fry the prawn like in my recipe for salt and pepper squid.

Most Chinese take-aways, (most, not all) use ketchup to give the vinegary tang which also gives sweet and sour sauce that typical red colour that we all think of when we imagine sweet and sour. This is a western replacement of the chinkiang vinegar which, I guess is a little hard to find. Or it may also have been swapped out because white Western chefs and cooks might feel uncomfortable asking for something called “chinkiang” in an Asian supermarket. If you can relate to that, just ask for Chinese black rice vinegar or buy it online!

The best thing to do when taking on a new cuisine at home is to read a few recipes, pick out the ones you like and make a list of common store cupboard ingredients. Then source a local supermarket that caters to said cuisine or find a good website that will deliver to you.

Sweet and Sour Prawns


  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp chinkiang vinegar
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • half a tbsp potato flour or plain flour
  • 1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 gloves or garlic
  • 1 small knob of ginger
  • 3 tbsp flavourless cooking oil
  • 350 g raw, peeled and deveined prawns


  1. To make the sauce, add the soy sauce, shaoxing, chinkiang, water, sugar, salt and flour to a jug, stir to combine and set aside.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, going the sichuan peppercorns until fine. Adding a small pinch of salt here will help.
  3. Take the spring onions, remove the roots and separate the whites from the greens. Finely slice the greens and set aside. Slice the whites into thin slivers and steep in cold water.
  4. Slice the chilli into thin slivers too and add it to the spring onion slivers.
  5. Peel and finely mince the ginger and garlic
  6. In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil over a high heat.
  7. Once hot, add the prawns and sichuan pepper and stir-fry until all the prawns have turned pink, about 3-4 mins.
  8. Remove them from the heat with a slotted spoon and place them in a serving bowl.
  9. Add another bit of oil to the wok if there's less than 3 tbsp. Once hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for about a minute then add the sauce.
  10. Allow to boil and reduce until it has thickened then add the spring onion greens and stir briefly.
  11. Remove from the heat, pour the sauce over the prawns, scatter over the drained chilli and spring onion slivers and serve.
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