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What Is Kung Pao Shrimp?
Kung Pao shrimp is a Chinese recipe made with a combination of shrimp and veggies tossed in a sweet and sour Kung Pao sauce. Every chef has their own spin on the dish. However, it typically features soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, and a dash of chili flakes or whole chili peppers for a bit of heat. Similar to the ever-popular Kung Pao Chicken recipes found in many fast food and takeout restaurants, Kung Pao shrimp features the same flavors, but the cooking technique used varies from chef to chef.
Why You’ll Love This Kung Pao Shrimp Recipe
- Unlike takeout or fast food, this Kung Pao recipe is never greasy.
- Ready in just 30 minutes, you can whip it up in less time than it takes to order from your local restaurant.
- It’s high-protein and full of veggies yet so scrumptious you’d never guess it’s good for you, too.
- A filling main course, it pairs well with all your favorite sides like Asian sticky rice, perfect Instant Pot brown rice, and Lo Mein noodles.
- Prep work is simple and cleanup is a breeze, meaning you can get in and out of the kitchen in no time!
Pro-Tips for the Best Kung Pao Shrimp
If you’ve never made a Kung Pao style recipe before or are a little hesitant to prepare shrimp, be sure to follow the steps below to ensure that your meal turns out perfectly every single time.
- Prepare In Advance. For easy cooking, be sure to have all of your ingredients on hand and ready to use. This means you’ll want to chop your veggies, peel and devein your shrimp, and whisk the Kung Pao sauce before you begin to cook.
- Use a Large Skillet or Wok. Make sure your wok or skillet is large enough to hold all of the ingredients without crowding them together. This will allow them to cook evenly, resulting in crisp veggies and tender shrimp.
- Avoid Overcooking. Be sure to stay near the stove, and keep a close eye on your shrimp! You’ll want to remove them from the heat as soon as they are opaque. Otherwise, they may become rubbery.
The ingredient list for this Kung Pao shrimp is short and sweet, but you can easily mix and match your favorite items to suit your needs and preferences. For instance, some of our favorite variations include:
- Adding in extra vegetables like onions, baby corn, mushrooms, snap peas, water chestnuts, and sliced zucchini.
- Play with proteins: try replacing the shrimp with chicken or beef.
- Swapping out the peanuts with cashews or sesame seeds.
Commonly Asked Questions
We prefer to use jumbo shrimp, though any size will work as long as they’re raw. Note that all shrimp can shrink in size quite a bit after cooking, so you may want to use larger shrimp.
Yes. Once cooled, leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. As with most shrimp recipes, this dish is best when eaten fresh and hot off the stove.
Made with very similar ingredients, the primary differences between the two is that Szechuan shrimp is generally sweeter than Kung Pao shrimp recipes. Kung Pao classically contains peanuts, whereas Szechuan shrimp does not use nuts.
More to Cook and Eat
- Shrimp Ceviche – The ultimate crowd-pleasing appetizer, this recipe is simple, refreshing, and utterly irresistible.
- Honey Lime Shrimp with Sriracha – This mouthwatering dish features the most succulent shrimp we’ve ever had the privilege of devouring
- Spicy Thai Grilled Shrimp – Grilled to tender perfection in just 10 minutes, dinner doesn’t get better than this!
- One Pot Lemon Orzo with Shrimp – If you love a good seafood pasta, you won’t want to miss out on this mouthwatering meal.
- Asian Shrimp Stir Fry with Snow Peas – This easy stir fry is full of flavor and quick to make for a nutritious dinner even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy.
- Shrimp Stir Fry (Szechuan) – succulent, juicy, and fabulous over jasmine rice.
Did you make this?
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Kung Pao Shrimp
- In a bowl, add the broth, oyster sauce, Sriracha, and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large non-stick pan or wok, add 1 TB oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is just smoking, add shrimp and peanuts. Cook 1 minute or just until shrimp turn spotty and partially opaque in color. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
- In the skillet over medium heat, add remaining oil, bell peppers, garlic, and ginger. Stir to combine. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in broth and bring ingredients to a boil.
- Add back the shrimp and peanuts. Simmer just until the sauce thickens and the shrimp turn fully opaque, no longer than 1 minute. Do not overcook. Immediately remove from heat once shrimp turns opaque and serve warm.