With all the flavors of your favorite Chinese take out, you’ll be proud to serve this delicious, easy shrimp stir fry at home! And I’ll show you a simple technique for velveting your shrimp so they come out perfect every single time.
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s delicious. Plump, bouncy shrimp with bok choy and water chestnuts, stir fried in a savory, spicy Chinese garlic sauce.
- Marinating and velveting the shrimp infuses flavor and makes them supple and glossy just like your favorite Chinese restaurant.
- So easy. 10 minutes of prep, 5 minutes of cooking – and a few minutes waiting around for the marinade to work its magic.
What is Velveting?
Velveting is a Chinese method of using cornstarch in a marinade to give proteins a tender, supple, silky texture. This process is routinely used for tougher cuts of beef, pork and chicken. However, it works great for shrimp as well. Your cooked shrimp will come out plump and bouncy.
While there are other methods for velveting with oil or baking soda, I have had the best outcomes with cornstarch.
Ingredients for Shrimp Stir Fry
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the full recipe!
- Shrimp Marinade: You’ll use egg white, rice vinegar, salt and cornstarch to marinate your shrimp for 30 minutes prior to cooking. This process is called velveting and is done for both flavor and texture.
- Shrimp: I use large uncooked, frozen shrimp that I thaw and shell just before marinating / velveting.
- Vegetable Oil: Any neutral cooking oil will work.
- Garlic: For the best fragrance. Two cloves minced should do the trick.
- Dried Red Chili: Finely chop your chilies and add as you see fit. I used about a teaspoon.
- Onion, Water Chestnuts and Baby Bok Choy: Water chestnuts in particular have such an iconic presence in Asian stir fries. If you have a hard time tracking down baby bok choy, you could always use snow peas instead.
- Soy Sauce: Big-time umami.
- Oyster Sauce: Both savory and sweet – with an understated marine element. This one is my favorite.
- Cornstarch and Water: Mixing a teaspoon of cornstarch with 3 teaspoons of water will thicken the sauce without making it gloppy.
- Sesame Oil: Toasty and nutty, this is a great flavor enhancer to add just before serving. Caution: a little goes a long way!
How to Make Shrimp Stir Fry
- Marinate and velvet the shrimp. Whisk your egg white, rice vinegar, salt, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl and add the shrimp to the mixture. Stir to evenly coat the shrimp. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then remove the shrimp from the mixture.
- Cook the shrimp. Heat a large wok or pan on medium high. When it’s hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and the shrimp. Cook on each side for 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate and set aside.
- Using the same wok or pan, add oil, garlic, and dried red chilis and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, until onions are translucent.
- Next, add water chestnuts and bok choy and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the cooked shrimp back to the pan along with soy sauce, oyster sauce and the water + cornstarch mixture, and stir well. Cook for 1 minute to warm up the shrimp.
- Finally, stir in the sesame oil and turn the heat off. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve.
What to Serve With Shrimp Stir Fry
Pair this savory and spicy stir fry with steamed white rice. For step-by-step instructions on how to make rice in a rice cooker and on the stove-top, check out these posts.
Or make a huge Chinese feast with these easy recipes:
Frequently Asked Questions
Stir frying means that you’re cooking something quickly (usually veggies, protein or rice) with a little oil over very high heat. This Chinese cooking technique is popular because your ingredients cook rapidly without deteriorating. Vegetables are done in a flash while retaining a pliant crunch – and meats get a sear on the outside without overcooking and drying out. Also, since such little oil is used, it’s a great way to keep calories in check.
Only as spicy as you want it to be. I used chopped dried red chilies in this stir fry shrimp recipe – and they deliver a low level burn that contributes to the overall flavor. However, they’re totally optional. If you tend to shy away from spicy flavors altogether, you might consider using something like ground white pepper which has milder, almost floral notes.
Cornstarch pulls double duty in this recipe. You’ll use it in the marinade to velvet your shrimp. But you’ll also add a little to the wok so the savory sauce thickens up and gets gooey. If you don’t have cornstarch handy, you can use potato starch or arrowroot powder.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Reheat leftovers in the microwave – or in a hot frying pan with a little oil.
- If the flavors have dulled a bit in the fridge, a dash of soy sauce will do the trick.
Did you like this shrimp stir fry recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
A delicious shrimp stir fry that tastes better than takeout!
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces large frozen shrimp, thawed and shelled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried red chili, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup water chestnuts
- 2 cups chopped bok choy or baby bok choy. Or you can use 1 cup snow peas.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 teaspoons cold water
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Whisk egg white, rice vinegar, salt, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl and add the shrimp to the mixture. Stir to evenly coat the shrimp and refrigerate for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the shrimp from the mixture.
- Heat a large wok or pan on medium high until it’s hot – about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp and cook on each side for 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.
- Using the same wok or pan over medium high heat, add oil, garlic, and dried red chilis and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, until onions are translucent.
- Add water chestnuts and bok choy and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add cooked shrimp to the pan along with soy sauce, oyster sauce, water, and cornstarch mixture, and stir well. Cook for 1 minute to warm up the shrimp.
- Stir in sesame oil and turn the heat off. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve with warm white or brown rice.
This shrimp stir fry is best piping hot out of the wok. If you have leftovers, you can keep them covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 365
- Sugar: 4.7g
- Sodium: 1211mg
- Fat: 21.2g
- Saturated Fat: 12.2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3.3g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 18.3g
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 27.3g
- Cholesterol: 182.5mg
Keywords: seafood stir fry