How to make easy Sweet & Sour Shrimp, with that puffy, crispy coating.
Sweet and Sour Shrimps or Prawns, are a favourite Chinese hawker zi char classic. This is a restaurant-level, better-than-takeout version that gets you that puffy, crispy coating – guaranteed to impress anyone! The best thing is that it is deceivingly easy to accomplish with my tips and tricks. The sweet and sour sauce is also easy to make, with ingredients that are readily available in any Asian pantry.
How to get that Puffy, Crispy Coating for Sweet and Sour Shrimp?
The puffy coating is achieved by two key ingredients in the batter:
- Baking Powder: this is what makes the batter rise when cooked to give it that puffed-up look. Do not use baking soda, it’s different.
- Cold Soda Water: Soda Water / seltzer water / carbonated water is simply plain water that’s been given the fizzy treatment. This helps in the puffiness as well. Use COLD water ok, so fresh out of the fridge. Make sure to use the batter immediately, or while still cold for the best, crispy results.
While I’m usually a cornflour/cornstarch type of girl for anything crispy and deep-fried, I used just plain, all-purpose flour here. With cornflour, I found the batter to be too gummy and sticky to work with.
You can try a 1:1 ratio of flour: cornstarch to get a more workable batter while still getting a coating that stays crispy for hours even after tossed in the sauce. For the sake of simplicity, and foolproof-ness, I prefer sticking to all purpose flour!
What if you don’t have soda water and baking powder? Then unfortunately you won’t get that puffy effect BUT you will still have nice, crispy prawns. Use ice cold water to get a better crisp!
The Easiest Sauce for Sweet & Sour Shrimp
Another component of this recipe is the easy sweet and sour sauce. The ingredients are minimal, and easy to find! Heck, you probably have these available in your pantry right now.
Tomato Ketchup: The tomato ketchup you use to dip your fries in! This sweet and tangy sauce makes the base of our sweet and sour sauce.
Sweet Chilli Sauce: Most chilli sauces in supermarkets in Singapore and Malaysia are sweet. They are rarely spicy; usually it’s a mild heat. Otherwise, you can look out for Thai Chilli Sauces which are often more sweet than spicy. Can you use a spicier chilli sauce such as Sriracha? Of course! That’s up to your preference and spice tolerance! You can balance out the flavours more by adding more sugar.
Oyster Sauce and Light Soy Sauce: These two typical Asian sauces add seasoning and that ~umami.
Vinegar: For a sharper tang, add vinegar. Any vinegar that you have on hand will do; rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar or regular white vinegar.
Brown Sugar: This adds more of that sweetness to balance out the sour. I love using brown sugar (or palm sugar) but white sugar or your favourite sweeteners will work too.
Can We Use This Batter for other Proteins?
Of course!!! Shrimp is my go-to here because it cooks quickly. In just 5 minutes, you can take the battered Other options you can try include squid and fish slices. They taste amazing with the sweet and sour sauce as well.
This batter and sauce also works incredibly well with chicken. With chicken, you can bump up the seasoning even more. I like to add a dash of light soy sauce, along with the salt and pepper. Chicken will need to cook longer. While you can set a medium-high to high heat for the seafood options, stick to a medium to medium high heat for chicken, depending on the size of your chicken bites. The good news with chicken is that while you will have to deep fry it for longer, you will get a gorgeous golden brown colour with the flour!
More Recipes Like This:
Love this Sweet and Sour Shrimp? You might love these too:
- Three Flavoured Chicken | Spicy, sweet and sour chicken
- Singapore Cereal Prawns
- Kung Pao Chicken Stir Fry
- Black Pepper Beef Stir Fry
Sweet & Sour Shrimp (with puffy, crispy coating!)Course: Recipes
- Shrimps or Prawns
300g Shrimp or Prawns, deshelled and deveined (I’m using Tiger Prawns)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Sugar
1 Cup of Flour, or enough to coat or dredge
Enough Oil for Deep Frying
- Puffy Batter
1/2 cup All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup ice cold Soda Water
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/2 Onion, cubed
1 Garlic, minced
1/2 a Capsicum, cubed
1/2 Carrot, sliced
4 tbsps Tomato Ketchup
2 tbsps Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Vinegar
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Water
Spring onion, to garnish
- Deep Frying the Shrimps or Prawns
- Peel and devein shrimps or prawns. Add salt, pepper and sugar and stir to coat.
Dredge or coat shrimps with flour. Make sure shrimps are fully coated with flour.
- Prepare your oil for deep-frying. Use medium-high to high heat. While oil is heating up, make the batter with flour, baking powder, salt and cold soda water.
- Add the coated shrimps to the batter.
- Once oil is hot, gently add the battered prawns. Gently wiggle the prawns apart since the batter might make them stick to each other before it crisps. Do not overcrowd the pan or pot or else you will get soggy coating.
- About 4-6 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimps), the shrimps should be done! The crispy puffy coating should also have formed. Drain on some paper towels.
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- To a pan, add some oil. Reuse some of the oil used to fry the shrimps.
- Once hot, add the onions and garlic and saute till fragrant before tossing in carrots and capsicums.
- Add all of the sauces next: tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and water. Stir to combine.
- Allow the sauce to come to a boil. Once it boils, add back the prawns and toss to combine.
- Garnish with spring onions – done!