Classic Dry-Fried Pepper and Salt Shrimp

Grace Young

Adapted from "Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge" (Simon & Schuster, 2010)

"Chinese home cooks like to clean shrimp with salt and water which gives shrimp a crisp, crystal-like texture the Chinese revere. The absence of liquid in the stir-fry allows you to experience a concentrated shrimp flavor accented by garlic, ginger, chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. For this reason, it’s imperative to use the freshest ingredients."—JBF Award winner Grace Young


Roasted and Ground Sichuan Peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

Pepper and Salt Shrimp

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted* and ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced Jalapeño chile with seeds



Make the roasted and ground peppercorns: put 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns in a dry, cold wok and remove any tiny stems. Stir over medium-low heat for 3 to 5 minutes until the peppercorns are very fragrant and slightly smoking. Be careful not to let them burn. Once they’re cooled, grind them in a mortar, then store them in a jar.

In a large bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the salt with 1 quart cold water. Add the shrimp and swish the shrimp in the water with your hand for about 30 seconds. Drain. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt to the bowl with 1 quart of cold water and repeat. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and set on several sheets of paper towels. With more paper towels, pat the shrimp dry. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, and ground peppercorns.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the garlic, ginger, and chile, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Push the garlic mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the shrimp and spread them evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the shrimp begin to sear. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and stir-fry 1 minute or until shrimp just begin to turn orange. Sprinkle on the salt mixture, and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the shrimp are just cooked.

Reprinted with permission from Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge: the Ultimate Guide to Mastery, With Authentic Recipes and Stories by Grace Young, copyright © 2010. Published by Simon & Schuster.


2 servings as a main dish with rice or 4 as part of a multicourse meal