Chili Garlic Shrimp with perfectly cooked shrimp and a garlicky, slightly sweet, and spicy sauce. It is delicious and easy to make in less than 30 minutes!
A Filipino version of this dish includes 7 Up or Sprite for extra sweetness and uses head-on shrimp for full flavor.
If you like shrimp, you may also like Salt and Pepper Shrimp.
Ingredients you’ll need
Notes and substitutions
- Shrimp: Go for large shrimp, as they are less likely to overcook. Check the label that tells how many pieces are in a pound. For example, 21-25 means 21 to 25 pieces per pound and U/10 for under ten — as the number decreases, the shrimp size increases.
- Chili Garlic Sauce: You can also use sambal oelek, a similar red chili paste without garlic. Sriracha can also be used in a pinch.
- Shaoxing Wine: It adds depth, enhancing the flavors in the dish. A minimal amount makes a difference in stir-fries like Beef Stir Fry with Onions and Peppers, braises or stews, and sauces. Use another Chinese cooking wine or Japanese rice wine (sake) as a substitute.
- Bird's Eye Chilies (Thai Chilies): For substitutes, you can use fresh hot peppers like serrano or dried peppers like red pepper flakes. Use any type you can tolerate, as much (or as little) as you want.
How to make this recipe
If you are using frozen shrimp, thaw them ahead of time. Rinse and dry them on paper towels.
(1)Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and lightly coat them with cornstarch.
Set a skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot and almost smoking, add oil to coat the bottom. (2)In batches, sear the shrimp for about a minute on each side. Be careful not to overcook them. Set them aside.
PRO TIP: Overcrowding the pan will prevent the shrimp from getting a nice crust on the outside.
(3)Over medium heat, sauté ginger, garlic, shallots, and chilies in a bit of oil until slightly softened. Add chili garlic sauce, Shaoxing wine, fish sauce, ¼ cup of water, sugar, and salt. (4)When the sauce starts to simmer, add the butter. Taste it and adjust as needed.
(5)Add the shrimp and coat them with the sauce. Turn off the heat, so they don't overcook.
Add scallions, cilantro, and fried garlic or shallots as an option. Enjoy with rice or noodles.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! They should have the same taste and texture as fresh shrimp if properly thawed. In most cases, the "fresh" ones at the supermarket's seafood counter were previously frozen as well. They are immediately frozen after harvest to preserve their freshness.
Thaw them overnight in the fridge. If you need it sooner, you can submerge the shrimp in its packaging in lukewarm water. Change the water as soon as it gets too cold.
Keep the head on if you enjoy the juices within or enjoy peeling them as you eat. There is so much flavor in them.
Depending on its size, searing the shrimp takes about a minute on each side. When it turns opaque and pink, it should be ready. The residual heat will cook it through.
They are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same species. They are very similar in terms of taste, texture, and appearance. For this recipe, use whatever you have on hand.
Watch how I make it here
Other seafood recipes you may like
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Chili Garlic Shrimp
For the shrimp:
- 1 pound large shrimp shelled, deveined
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch sub:flour
- Neutral-flavored oil for searing and sautéing
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small shallot sub:red onion
- 1 teaspoon minced bird's eye chilies sub:crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce sub:sambal oelek or Sriracha
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine sub:Chinese or Japanese cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- salt (I used ¼ teaspoon kosher salt) adjust to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter sub:margarine
- scallions/green onions sliced
- cilantro or parsley chopped
- fried garlic or shallots
- Rinse the shrimp and dry them on paper towels.
- Season them with salt and pepper and lightly coat them with cornstarch.
- In batches, sear the shrimp for about a minute on each side. Be careful not to overcook them. Set them aside.
- Over medium heat, sauté ginger, garlic, shallots, and chilies in a bit of oil until slightly softened.
- Add chili garlic sauce, Shaoxing wine, fish sauce, ¼ cup of water, sugar, and salt.
- When the sauce starts to simmer, add the butter. Taste it and adjust as needed.
- Add the shrimp and coat them with the sauce. Turn off the heat, so they don't overcook.
- Add scallions, cilantro, and fried garlic or shallots as an option.