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    The BEST Hunan Shrimp

    Alright. I’m starting with the summary of this post before you even start reading… IT’S SUPER DELICIOUS!! YES. It’s fiery, spicy (in a good way), sticky, sweet and savory… Hunan Shrimp!

    Succulent shrimp laced in a chili paste enhanced sauce with just a drizzle of this and a splash of that of some Asian staples. Add in whatever veggies you can think of, stir and fry for a few minutes and it’s ready to go over a bowlful of white rice.

    There you go. The quick and easy way to cook those shrimps, my stir-fry lovers!

    A bowl of Hunan shrimp over rice.

    We are super excited to introduce this Hunan style shrimp. You are going to be mighty excited too as you read along, as they are:

    1. Fast and Speedy. From stove top to your table in less than 30 minutes. Hmm… maybe 20 minutes. Max. So perfect for any day of the week.
    2. Versatile. You can mix & match what you have on hand when it comes to veggies.
    3. Addictive. You’ll be hooked on the combination of colors, textures and flavors. As I said to Jason, this is something I can keep on eating even when I am full.
    4. Adjustable. Though it’s supposed to have some kick, you can adjust exactly how much heat you want.
    Close up of these stir fried shrimp.

    Chinese Cuisine

    Chinese cuisine is as diverse as their culture. Every region has their own cooking styles, ingredients and flavors. The most prominent regional cuisines in China are Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang.

    Many westerners are familiar with the spicy red hot flavors of Sichuan cuisines, particularly the numbing flavor of Sichuan peppercorn that is rare in other regional cuisine. Though most of their dishes do have a little sweet and sour notes too. It’s next door neighbor, Hunan, is not that well known outside China, though it gives an equal punch in terms of flavor and hotness.

    For lots of great Asian flavors, check out my compilation of the 50 Best Asian Recipes.

    Overhead of two bowlfuls of Hunan shrimp.

    What makes the Hunan cooking style unique?

    The Hunan province lies east of Sichuan province, a little further down the famous Yangtze river. People from both of these regions have a penchant for spicy, chili-laden dishes, Hunan a tad bit more so.

    There are a few subtle differences that sets Hunan apart from Sichuan. Sichuan tends to use more dried chilies, whereas Hunan style mostly uses either fresh chilies or fermented chili pastes, resulting in fresh aromas and deep colors. Vinegar is another ingredient widely used in Hunan and takes precedence over the numbing spice of the peppercorns of Sichuan.

    The famous chili paste that they make with fresh chili peppers, vinegar and salt hails from this region. Hunan dishes also get strong flavors from the liberal use of garlic, ginger and green onions. The Hunanese are also masters of fermentation. Their spicy, pickled vegetables are served with every meal.

    So if you ask me.. Hunan food is Fun… Hot… Piquant… Sour… Umami… Addictive… All in one bowl!!

    About Chili Paste

    Three types of chili paste in their containers.

    You want some hot Asian chili paste for this dish. There are several options. I am using Sambal Oelek, which is an Indonesian chili paste with ginger, garlic and shallots. Another great option is Gochujang, a fermented Korean chili paste. This is a little hotter than Sambal Oelek.

    You can also use Doubanjiang paste, made from chili peppers and fermented beans. They are all readily available in Asian grocery stores. In their absence, you can use Sriracha or even dried chili flakes.

    You will need…

    Chopped veggies on a wooden cutting board.

    For the stir fry

    • Shrimp – Use jumbo or extra large for this one. You can use fresh or frozen.
    • Bell peppers – Use multiple colored ones, they give a nice color to the dish.
    • Aromatics – Ginger and garlic, plenty.
    • Green onion – I feel every Asian dish is incomplete without these green goodies.
    • Green beans – They go great with shrimp.
    • Cornstarch – To give a little coating to the shrimp.
    • Salt
    • Freshly cracked pepper

    For that Ultimate Hunan sauce:

    • Chili paste
    • Oyster sauce – Gives great depth to Asian food. In its absence, you can increase the soy sauce
    • Soy sauce – The soul of Asian cuisine.
    • White rice vinegar – Can be substituted by regular vinegar.
    • Chinese rice wine – Optional, but we always have a bottle around, as it imparts great authentic flavors.
    • Ketchup – Yes. Not so original, but that tang is so great
    • Sugar
    • Salt
    • Water

    How to make Hunan Shrimp

    Like any other stir fry dish, this is super express fast. More so, as you are cooking shrimp which need just a few minutes to cook. All you are doing is mixing all the ingredients of the sauce in a bowl. THE SAUCE IS THE HERO HERE.

    Now the question is how much spice you want. Don’t close your mind thinking it’s hot and spicy so I won’t try it. The beauty of it is you can add as much or as little chili paste as you want. And remember, you are adding ketchup, vinegar and sugar, so that adds tang and sweetness along with the heat.

    Here is a basic guideline:

    1 tsp for heat intolerant
    2 tsp for mild
    3-4 tsp for medium
    5-6 tsp for relatively hot Hunan (sometimes I personally can go higher)

    Our mixed sauce in a white bowl.

    When mixing the sauce, add the chili paste in the end and taste after every spoonful. Taste and adjust…

    Once the sauce is made, prep your shrimp by seasoning them with salt, freshly cracked pepper and a little cornstarch. Mix well so the shrimp are evenly coated.

    Finely chop ginger and garlic. Dice the bell peppers and green beans to the shapes you like. Chop the green onions, keeping the white and green parts separate. Quick prep done.

    Shrimp frying in a wok.

    Heat some oil in your wok and give a quick sauté to the shrimp, until they are pink and curled. Remove to a plate and set aside.

    Veggies and aromatics in the wok.

    In the same wok, add all your veggies (only the white part of green onions) along with ginger and garlic and cook till they are slightly softened. You want some crunch. Add in the shrimp along with prepared Hunan sauce and mix everything well.

    Shrimp and sauce added to the wok.

    Cook for a few more minutes and DONE.

    A wok full of our finished product.

    Treat yourself to a big pile of Hunan style shrimp over a bowlful of your favorite rice, of keep the fiery theme going and serve them with our Spicy Noodles. Grab those chopsticks and savor the flavors.

    Some variations

    Swap the protein. Try Hunan chicken or Hunan beef. Equally delicious.

    Any other veggies? Sure, any kind can work. Try broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, baby corn or snow peas. All are great companions to your shrimp. Add more or less veggies, it’s all good.

    How to store leftovers

    Personally we like to eat prawns and seafood on the same day, as they taste so much better fresh. Saying that, it’s a great leftover for lunch the next day. Just refrigerate overnight in an airtight container. Though with this one, chances are there are no leftovers even for lunch! 🙂

    For best quality, we don’t recommend freezing this one.

    Side view of a bowl of Hunan shrimp.

    With my spicy DNA, this one’s a keeper for me. Try this stir fry, ready in about 20 minutes. Busy days and busy life doesn’t have to mean compromising on flavors and taste. We are always coming up with quick and easy ones for you.

    While you’re here, check out my roundup of the best shrimp recipes.

    Pin or bookmark this Hunan style shrimp and let me know if Hunan happened in your life… 🙂 Be sure to check our other cracking Asian Recipes on GypsyPlate, and come back again for all the new flavors coming to you.

    Hunan Shrimp, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    The bowl of Hunan shrimp atop the Gypsy Plate.

    Enjoy these other quick and easy stir frys!
    Mongolian Beef
    Thai Basil Chicken
    Hawaiian Fried Rice
    Chicken Ramen Stir Fry
    Kung Pao Chicken

    Hunan Shrimp.

    Hunan Shrimp

    Yield: 4 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Total Time: 25 minutes

    These fiery Hunan shrimp are super quick and super tasty. Don't worry, you can always adjust the heat level if you're not as spicy as me!


    Stir Fry

    • 1 lbs shrimp
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 cup green beans, chopped
    • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
    • 5-6 Green onion or scallions, chopped
    • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 3 Tbsp oil

    Hunan sauce

    • 5 tsp sambal oelek chili paste
    • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
    • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp rice or white vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp rice wine
    • 3 Tbsp tomato ketchup
    • 1 tsp sugar


    1. Clean the shrimp (we kept the tail on) and marinate it with salt, pepper and cornstarch while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
    2. Mix all the ingredients for Hunan sauce in a bowl.
    3. Dice all bell peppers, cut the green beans and scallions into inch long pieces. keep the green and white parts of the scallion separate.
    4. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add shrimp and sear for a couple of minutes, till they get a little curled up and turn pink. Plate them out and set aside. Don't overcook, as they will continue to cook in the Hunan sauce later.
    5. Add remaining oil and turn the heat to high. Add in green beans. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes, till they get little soft. Stir in bell peppers, white parts of scallions, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes then mix in the prepared Hunan sauce. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water along with shrimp and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes. Garnish it with green parts of scallions.
    6. Serve it piping hot over your favorite steamed rice.


    This creates a dryer version of Hunan shrimp, where the sauce is just glazed all over the shrimp. If you want a saucier version, fell free to add in more water.

    To adjust the hot and spicy factor of this dish, when you are mixing in the ingredients for the sauce, add in chili paste in the end. After 2-3 tsp of chili paste, taste and keep on adding till you get the hotness level you want. It wont be smoking hot, as the sugar and tomato ketchup add lots of tang and sweetness to the sauce.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 4 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 334Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 239mgSodium 2304mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 3gSugar 10gProtein 29g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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