This Hunan shrimp is a quick and easy stir-fry that has the most DELICIOUS sweet and spicy Hunan style sauce! 10 minutes, minimal prep, and secretly low carb!
Growing up, Chinese food was a staple in our household.
Coming from a half Asian background, we ate traditional and family shared recipes for many of our meals. As we have origins from the Hunan province of China, we specifically ate foods from that region. These include Hunan chicken, Hunan beef, and my favorite Hunan shrimp.
What is shrimp Hunan style?
Hunan style shrimp is a seafood based stir fry derived from the Hunan province of China. Its flavors are slightly sweet and slightly spicy, and uses a mix of fish sauce and soy sauce. Compared to other stir-fries, it uses real chili paste in it, often as sambal oelek.
Now, depending on where in the world you are, the spice level of this dish varies, but they all maintain the key elements needed. Besides, like any good stir fry, you can always add more spice or heat, if you prefer.
This Hunan shrimp recipe is my favorite thing to make when I have minimal time and want something quick and easy for dinner. Like all my other healthy dinner ideas, they take less than 10 minutes to make.
What is Hunan shrimp made of?
For the stir-fry.
- Large shrimp– While small shrimp will work, I prefer the larger variety, as it gives the stir-fry a more ‘meaty’ texture. Remove the tails before cooking.
- Almond flour or flour– To lightly dust on the shrimp before frying. This also helps the Hunan sauce stick to them.
- Oil– Any neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point is great, like peanut or safflower oil.
- Ginger and garlic– Must have vegetables in any stir fry.
- Broccoli, bell peppers, and onion– My favorite vegetables to include in this stir fry. Any vegetables can be used, like cauliflower or zucchini.
For the Hunan style sauce.
- Fish broth– Enhances the seafood flavor. You can use chicken or beef broth if preferred.
- Soy sauce– Use tamari or gluten free soy sauce, if needed.
- Fish sauce– Adds a delicious umami flavor. A small amount goes a long way, so don’t be heavy handed with it.
- White vinegar– Balances out the salty and sweet flavors.
- Brown sugar– Any sweetener works, including a brown sugar substitute.
- Chili paste– Adds a subtle spicy kick.
- Xanthan gum OR cornstarch– To thicken the sauce. I used xanthan gum to keep it keto friendly, but cornstarch also works.
How do you make this recipe?
Start by preparing the Hunan sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until combined. Set it aside to thicken. Next, lightly dusting the shrimp with the flour. Add the oil to a non-stick pan and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the shrimp from the pan.
Now, add more oil to the same pan, then add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for two minutes, until fragrant. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for several minutes until tender.
Finally, add the shrimp back into the pan and mix into the vegetables. Pour the Hunan sauce all over it let everything simmer for several minutes, before serving immediately.
Storing, freezing, and reheating instructions
- To store: Leftovers will keep well refrigerated in a sealed container for up to five days.
- To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled stir fry in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
- Reheating: Microwave the stir fry in 30-second spurts until warm, or in a non-stick pan.
More easy dinner recipes to try
Frequently Asked Questions
Hunan shrimp has umami and slightly spices, all balanced out by the brown sugar (or sugar substitute). The sauce sticks to the shrimp making them even more juicy.
Chinese shrimp recipes, when made correctly, are healthier than most. They are packed with protein and plenty of vegetables, and the sauces typically contain minimal added fat.
Hunan shrimp has a spicier flavor, whereas Szechuan shrimp has a more peppery punch, thanks to the use of peppercorns.
Hunan Shrimp (Low carb!)
For the stir fry
- Make the Hunan sauce by whisking together all the ingredients until combined.
- In a small bowl, add the shrimp with the flour and mix until combined.
- Add the oil into a non-stick pan and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the shrimp from the pan.
- Add the sesame oil into the same pan, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes, until tender.
- Add the shrimp back into the pan and mix until combined. Pour the Hunan style sauce over it and cook everything for a further five minutes.
- Remove the pan off the heat and serve immediately.