Spicy walnut shrimp

Chinese cooks love combining varying textures to interesting effect. There’s a Cantonese dish recommended by Ken Hom that combines sugar-glazed walnuts with shrimp. This dish is inspired by Ken Hom but is my own recipe; it skews towards a spicier taste. This is another fairly typical “TastyAsia” dish, in that it’s finished in the time that it takes to cook the rice. And the taste is more wonderful than you’d expect from such a simple recipe.

Begin by boiling walnuts for 10 minutes to remove their bitterness. Drain them on a paper towel.

Blanched walnuts

Boiled walnuts

Blanch the shrimp and reserve. Then chop the garlic and ginger.

Minced garlic and ginger

Minced garlic and ginger

The sauce for this recipe includes spicy bean paste (辣豆瓣酱, là dòubàn jiàng). I use Lee Kum Kee brand, but there are many others.



Mix all the sauce ingredients together:

The sauce, all ready to go

The sauce, all ready to go

And now everything should be all ready to add to the wok.

Clockwise from center: blanched shrimp, garlic and ginger, sauce, and boiled walnuts

After all of the prep work is finished, the final cooking takes no longer than about 5 minutes. Enjoy.

Spicy walnut shrimp

Spicy walnut shrimp


  1. 3 cloves garlic and 1/2″ ginger, minced
  2. 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, blanched for one minute in boiling water and then drained in a colander and patted dry
  3. Mix a sauce made of: 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 Tbsp spicy bean paste (辣豆瓣酱, là dòubàn jiàng), 1 tsp black Shanxi vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp chili oil; stir all of this together well
  4. 6 oz walnuts, boiled for 10 minutes and then drained and patted dry


  • Heat your wok until barely smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Then add the garlic and ginger (#1) and stir-fry for about 15 seconds until fragrant.
  • Next, add the shrimp (#2) and stir-fry for about a minute until heated through and just beginning to develop some brown spots.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the sauce (#3), and stir-fry for about a minute.
  • Then add the walnuts (#4) and stir for roughly another minute, until everything is heated through.

VARIATIONS: Vary the quantities of chili oil and sugar to suit your taste. For a much hotter dish, add chopped red or green pickled chili peppers. Add 1 tsp of Sichuan pepper to the sauce. Try pecans or cashews instead of walnuts.

This entry was posted in Fish and seafood, Recipes, Shrimp, Stir-fry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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