Kung Pao Shrimp (and how to make shrimp extra plump)

Kung Pao Shrimp (and how to make shrimp extra plump)

This dish is an easy Chinese stir-fry that features extra plump and crunchy shrimp with the help of a secret ingredient.
kung pao shrimp with rice on a white plate
Do you ever have problems when cooking your shrimp? They shrink in size, sometimes get dry if you cook them too long, etc. Well I learned a simple technique to keep the shrimp plump, juicy and crunchy. I’m so excited to share it.

The shrimp don’t shrink at all. Instead they actually expand and stays plump and juicy during the cooking process.
a close-up of chopsticks holding a kung pao shrimp
The secret? Baking soda. You soak the shrimp in some baking soda for about 20-30 minutes. And when you cook your shrimp, you’ll see the results. Kung Pao Shrimp tastes so much better with plump shrimp.
chopsticks holding a piece of shrimp

Kung Pao Shrimp

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 2

Sometimes homemade kung pao shrimp dishes just aren’t the same as a restaurant version because the shrimp shrink or dry out when you try and make it at home. Well, I learned a simple technique to keep the shrimp plump, juicy and crunchy: baking soda. Soak the shrimp in some baking soda for about 20 to 30 minutes and when you make this kung pao shrimp, you’ll see the results. 

Print Recipe


  • 8 oz medium or large shrimp deveined and shelled (cut in half if using large shrimp)
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 6 chili peppers
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 scallion finely chopped

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp black vinegar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch


  1. Add shrimp to a medium-sized bowl and submerge in cold water. Add 1 heaping tsp baking soda into water and dissolve. Massage shrimp gently to mix baking soda in. Let shrimp soak for 20-30 minutes before removing water and rinsing shrimp (make sure to rinse so that your shrimp don’t taste bitter from lingering baking soda).
  2. Add oil to the wok and turn stove heat to medium-high. Add in garlic and cook until aroma comes out. Add in shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp are just cooked. Stir in chili peppers and peppercorns. Add in peanuts and cook for about another minute.
  3. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl, making sure cornstarch is dissolved. Heat sauce in a small saucepan until it thickens. Then add sauce into wok and cook for a few minutes until shrimp is completed coated in sauce. Garnish with scallions. Serve warm with rice.

Nutrition Facts
Kung Pao Shrimp
Amount Per Serving (0.5 of recipe)
Calories 368 Calories from Fat 143
% Daily Value*
Fat 15.9g24%
Saturated Fat 4.5g28%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.6g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.6g
Cholesterol 182.5mg61%
Sodium 1624.7mg71%
Carbohydrates 28.1g9%
Fiber 3.6g15%
Sugar 15.6g17%
Protein 32.8g66%
Vitamin A 250IU5%
Vitamin C 268.1mg325%
Calcium 120mg12%
Iron 2.7mg15%
Net Carbs 25g50%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.