July 4, 2015

Stir Fried Ketchup Shrimp 茄汁蝦碌

Stir Fried, Ketchup Shrimp, ketchup, shrimp, recipe, chinese,stir fry,  茄汁蝦碌
By Published: 2015-07-04
We love shrimp!  It's got to be one of our favorite seafood items of all times.  What's there not to like, fresh shrimp is the most amazingly, succulently sweet meat that has an amazing crunchy yet tender bite to it.  

We have to careful when eating shrimp, however, as my little girl and I both struggle with eczema and shrimp unfortunately is one of those things that can cause the skin itchies.  But boy, oh, boy do I enjoy it the every once in a while we allow ourselves to indulge.  

This time around we made one of my childhood favorite stir fried shrimp dishes, the delectable Stir Fried Ketchup Shrimp, or 茄汁蝦碌.  This shrimp dish is sooo good that you'll find yourself licking the plate clean (like I do every time!)

Stir Fried, Ketchup Shrimp, ketchup, shrimp, recipe, chinese,stir fry,  茄汁蝦碌

The key to a great shrimp dish is simple really. Get yourself some fresh shrimp! Yes, it really is that simple.  In Hong Kong, luckily, the great Cantonese tradition of fresh seafood dictates that you almost never eat sucky shrimp. You know what I mean, those limp tasteless pink things that pass for shrimp in those shrimp cocktails that cost so much (because it's still seafood sort of.)  

We get our shrimp still jumping from the local wet markets in Hong Kong and also we buy quick frozen shrimp from the frozen sections of the supermarket.  We have found that seafood, if immediately frozen after the catch, will still be super fresh when defrosted in the kitchen. This is cool because you can find all kinds of yummilicious things like super sized tiger prawns, conch, and even crab in the frozen section!

Stir Fried, Ketchup Shrimp, ketchup, shrimp, recipe, chinese,stir fry,  茄汁蝦碌
Stir Fried, Ketchup Shrimp, ketchup, shrimp, recipe, chinese,stir fry,  茄汁蝦碌

The other major ingredients to this dish are the ketchup (we use a tasty organic ketchup) and garlic, a most excellent pairing of flavors.   I remember once watching a British cooking show where a guest chef (Chinese) prepared a similar dish with ketchup as an ingredient. The host chef (not Chinese) immediately rather sarcastically asked her why she used ketchup instead of a traditional chinese ingredient.  

What this chef did not understand, I think, was the Chinese tradition of incorporating outside elements into our cuisine, oftentimes so completely that Chinese people forget that it was once a foreign ingredient.  

For example, I grew up with ketchup as a staple in our Chinese pantry.  And I have it now as a staple in my own Chinese pantry.  Besides ketchup I can, off the top of my head, think of worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise, all staples of modern Chinese cuisine.  Anyways, besides all that mumble jumble, did you know that ketchup actually originated from China!

Stir Fried, Ketchup Shrimp, ketchup, shrimp, recipe, chinese,stir fry,  茄汁蝦碌

To prepare your lovely fresh shrimp you will need to give them a good haircut. Trim off the long antennae and clean away the sand vein along the shrimp's back. My 媽媽 taught me a good trick to this long ago. 

Get yourself a toothpick, insert it under the vein at a point along the middle of the shrimp's back, just in between where any two of the shells meet. Once the toothpick is securely underneath the vein, just gently pull up and away from the shrimp. The whole vein should come out in one go!  You can keep the heads on, as we do, and enjoy sucking the delicious guck out of the heads (sooo good!), or you can slice them clean off.

A few last tips before I sign off.  When cooking this dish remember that speed in the stir fry of shrimp is of the essence as you don't want to over cook the shrimp.  Have all ingredients prepared and measured out before hand so that all is ready when you need to throw it into the wok.  After cleaning shrimps dry them with a clean kitchen towels as dry as possible.  This will help prevent any oil splattering as the shrimp go into the wok and also will help you to achieve a crisp (vs soft and soggy) shrimp shell.

Hope you enjoy our finger lickin good Stir Fried Ketchup Shrimp dish!  Easy to prepare and an absolute seafoody delight to devour!

Stir Fried, Ketchup Shrimp, ketchup, shrimp, recipe, chinese,stir fry,  茄汁蝦碌
Stir Fried Ketchup Shrimp Recipe

(Prep time: 2 mins  Cook time: 5 mins)



Rinse shrimp clean, trim antennae and pluck out vein along shrimp's back.  Pat shrimp dry.  

Heat up wok over high heat, add oil, then ginger. Stir for a few seconds until you can smell the fragrance of ginger.  Add shrimp in (be careful of splattering oil) and stir constantly over medium heat until the shrimp starts to turn orange.  

Add in minced garlic and stir fry for 5 sec or so until garlic fragrance arises.  Add ketchup, sugar, shao hsing wine and soy sauce immediately and stir fry until the sauce is dry enough to cling to the shrimp. 

Remove to platter and serve hot.

Scrumptious Shrimps at The Hong Kong Cookery:

soy sauce king prawn stir frySoy Sauce King Prawn - The Art of Stir Fry

drunken shrimp Drunken Shrimp 醉蝦

Tofu with Shrimp, tofu, shrimp, beancurd, 蝦仁豆腐Tofu with Shrimp 蝦仁豆腐


  1. Interesting anecdote about the ketchup, and something I'd been wondering about. Would you be able to speak more about the history and origins?

    1. Hi Timothy - As per Wikipedia: "In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁, Mandarin Chinese guī zhī, Cantonese gwai1 zap1) meaning the brine of pickled fish (鮭, salmon; 汁, juice) or shellfish. By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore), where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap(pronounced "kay-chap"). That word evolved into the English word "ketchup". English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies." So basically the fish sauce of asian evolved into the ketchup of today! Pretty cool, eh? ~ellen

  2. Great! just made it last night and it was fantastic

    1. Yah, great that you enjoyed our ketchup shrimp! ~ellen

  3. Missing my six years in Hong Kong, and finding 2 lbs of wild NC shrimp in the freezer today, found your great recipe and am enjoying this WONDERFUL dish as I type!! Totally hits the spot!! Um goy! Ho, ho sik :)

    1. Dear Rinchen - Um sai hak hei , so glad that you're enjoying the shrimp! Wish I could have a shrimp! ~ellen