Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It’s gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It's gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

The title of this recipe sounds like it gave away all of the ingredients: salt, pepper, and shrimp. But I promise you, there’s a little more punch to it than that.

This healthy Chinese restaurant-style dish is loaded with flavorful, warming aromatics like ginger, garlic, and bird’s eye chilis—and the smallest touch of brown sugar (as recommended by my mom) to balance out the flavors.

Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It's gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

The sugar won’t make the shrimp taste sweet (it’s only 1/2 of a teaspoon), but it’s a little trick that makes all the difference in how the flavors come together. Trust me on this one if you’re thinking of omitting it.

The salt and pepper shrimp you’d find in a Chinese restaurant is usually deep fried and breaded with all-purpose flour. Instead, this shrimp is stir-fried, which means it’s completely gluten-free (and a little better for you).

Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It's gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

This shrimp recipe makes four to six servings, so you can serve it as a side or an appetizer for a larger crowd. It could also be shared as a main among four people, with rice and your favorite steamed vegetables.

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Healthy Chinese Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It's gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It’s gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: Gluten Free
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Chinese
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds uncooked large shrimp, deveined and shells on
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns or ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 fresh Thai chili or dried red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil with high smoke point such as avocado oil or vegetable oil
  • Chopped green onion for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Rinse shrimp in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Combine salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Combine prepared ginger, garlic, and chili in a separate small bowl. These two steps will allow you to move quickly while cooking.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Swirl.
  5. When the oil is hot, place shrimp into the pan and sauté until it begins to turn pink, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Toss ginger, garlic and chili combination into the pan. Stir frequently until the shrimp is opaque.
  7. Quickly add salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir until shrimps are evenly coated by all seasonings, about 30 seconds. Dish. Garnish with green onion and serve immediately.

Notes

  • The same amount of spices might be too strong for peeled shrimp. Reduce the spices accordingly if using peeled shrimp for this recipe.
  • I recommend purchasing your shrimp in the seafood section of an Asian market for the most authentic taste, but that will require a bit more prep time in order to devein the shrimp. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 216
  • Sugar: 0.7g
  • Sodium: 493.1mg
  • Fat: 9.8g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Protein: 30.7g
  • Cholesterol: 243.3mg
Classic Chinese salt and pepper shrimp with a healthy twist without losing any authentic taste. It's gluten-free and only requires 15 minutes. So quick and yum!

14 thoughts on “Healthy Chinese Salt and Pepper Shrimp”

  1. I have been cooking a lot of shrimp lately; love how light it is and all the flavors it adds in spring dishes. This sounds amazing; I’m excited to give this a try!

  2. Oh WOW, these sound so swift and delicious! I haven’t eaten shrimp in far too long (uh, that means maybe three weeks, so not THAT long, but still).

  3. This is a gorgeous dish! I might serve it with peeled shrimp and I liked the tip to adjust the spices accordingly. I will be serving this with some steamed rice.

    1. Lovely! Would love to know how it turns out for you with peeled shrimp and how much spice you use. Thanks for stopping by, Vicky!

  4. This look so tasty! And I’m all about healthier, homemade restaurant favorite. Have you tried cooking these with shelled shrimp? Just wondering if it would work.

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  6. Hi! This sounds just delicious, but I’m wondering..are the shrimp raw or already cooked? And why not shell them before you cook them…because they will have more flavor? It just seems that it would be easier to eat if they were already shelled before serving them. Thank you!

    1. Hi Roberta, the shrimp is raw, not cooked. You can totally cook shelled shrimp with this recipe. I’ve done it. Just be conservative with the spices since the flavor is going to attach to the shrimp meat directly. (Thanks for the reminder – I am going to update the recipe now.)

      The reason that I left the shell on is because I learned this recipe from my mother when I visited her in Shanghai and she cooks with whole shrimp (with the heads on) to keep it juicy. When ready to eat, we take off the head and peel the shell, but there’s still a little bit of shrimp juice left on the shrimp meat. I have to say that it tastes even better this way. I understand that’s not how people enjoy shrimp here, so I just tried to cook shrimp with shells but no heads the same way my mom does. And it worked. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

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