Prawns in chilli sauce

By Abi Adeboyejo Email:

Culinary2 copyI love prawns. When cooked well, they can be just as satisfying as beef or chicken in a meal. This recipe has been adapted from the Chinese version of prawns in chilli sauce. I always get complements whenever I serve this with cooked rice or noodles. It is a very easy to make this dish and should take a total of 30 minutes to make from start to finish and should feed 2-3 adults ( served with cooked rice) .


  • 450 grams uncooked prawns
  • 1.5 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped onions
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped ( atanla)

For the garnish

  • 2 tablespoons spring onions, sliced lengthways (optional)

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil (you may use groundnut oil instead)
  • 1 pinch salt and black pepper


  1. Spring onions, sliced lengthways. If required, peel the prawns and, if you are using large uncooked ones, cut them down the back and remove the fine digestive cord.
  2. Wash them and pat them dry with a clean kitchen napkin.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over high heat until it is hot.
  4. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the ginger, garlic, red chilli and spring onions.
  5. Stir-fry for 30 seconds and then add the prawns. Stir-fry the prawns for one to two minutes.
  6. Add the sauce ingredients, season with ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and continue to stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes over a high heat.
  7. Garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.

Where to buy the ingredients
I strongly suggest that you buy frozen whole prawns. Whole because the shell protects them from the rigours of being frozen without losing too much moisture, and frozen because shrimps spoil very rapidly. If you decide to buy fresh prawns, you can check that it is fresh by smelling it (surreptitiously!) before you buy. The prawns should smell like fresh ocean water, not the strong smell of ammonia or stale fish. Good supermarkets with frozen food sections will have frozen prawns.

Worcester sauce is another ingredient for your food cupboard (along with soy sauce and cornflour from previous recipes on this site). Once opened, you can store away from light and in your cupboard for several months, without it going stale. (Watch out for my African take of a Russian sauce, beef stroganoff, which will also require some Worcester sauce). You should find Worcester sauce at good large supermarkets.

All other ingredients can be sourced at your local market.

Other tips

To make this an even healthier option, you can cook some spinach in the exactly same way as the shrimps and serve on the side. The spinach retains its deep green colour but tastes lovely and velvety. Add or reduce the chilli in the recipe to your taste.

Make this a special sauce for guests and serve with rice as an alternative to the usual jollof or fried rice. If serving alcohol, try white wine. Fish and seafood always tastes nicer with white wine.

I always serve this dish on white or light coloured plain plates. It just does wonders to the tummy to see the food looking so lovely even before taking a bite.

Consider serving quartered oranges or adding a wedge of lemon to drinks after the meal to help refresh your breath after the spicy meal.

Finally, be ready to share this recipe. You can be sure that your friends and family will wantto try this for themselves. Enjoy!