Sweet and Sour Prawns

In Chinese cooking, sweet and sour sauce is used in two ways – as a sauce in the actual food preparation, or as a dipping sauce for the prepared food, with certain flavors of sauce being associated with particular meats.

Sweet and Sour Prawns | Foodal.com

Chili and soy are particularly associated with prawns or shrimp, traditionally mixed with a sweet ingredient like sugar or honey, with the sour flavor being provided by rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, or cloves. Tomato paste is rarely used in heritage dishes, being an addition that’s normally restricted to Western versions.

S & S sauces are sometimes used on raw ingredients like fruit and vegetables as well, for a dish that’s served cold.

In many Western versions of this sauce, pineapple, green pepper, and onion are added, and cornstarch is used as a thickener before the sauce is poured over deep fried meat, chicken, or shrimp. It’s the method we use for our delicious Sweet and Sour Pork recipe.

Before making this recipe, you may want to read our article on the basics of cooking with a wok, to pick up a few pointers.

Whichever way you choose to use this tasty dressing – as a dip or cooking ingredient – its tart and nectar-like flavor is sure to please.

If you purchase whole shrimp to make this, then be sure to check out our tips on deveining first.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Sweet and Sour Prawns Recipe| Foodal.com

Sweet and Sour Prawns

  • Author: Lorna Kring


  • 24 raw (large prawns, peeled and deveined)
  • 1 medium (fresh pineapple, peeled and sliced into 1/8ths lengthwise with the core removed)
  • 1 yellow pepper (sliced into narrow wedges lengthwise)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced into narrow wedges lengthwise)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced into 1/8ths then separate each eighth into 2 or 3 pieces)
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 large piece of gingerroot (approximately 2 square inches, peeled and minced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 12 fresh red chillies (deseeded and diced)
  • 1/2 fresh lime
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (coarsely chopped (optional))


  1. Heat a large, heavy griddle over a high heat, and lay the pineapple slices on top for 3 or 4 minutes until charred. Turn ever minute or so, then remove to a cutting board and cool.
  2. Add the sliced peppers to the griddle for 3 or 4 minutes, just until soft and char marked. Turn once halfway through cooking.
  3. Add the chunks of onion to the griddle for 3 or 4 minutes, cooking until they begin to lose their opaqueness and are char marked. Turn once halfway through cooking.
  4. In a food blender, mix the garlic and chilies with a pinch of salt just to make a coarse paste. Add the ginger, then mix until combined.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the chilli paste with 1 teaspoon oil. Add the prawns and stir in to coat well.
  6. Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add the oil and prawns and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink.
  7. While the prawns are cooking, chop the cooled pineapple into bite-sized chunks.
  8. In a small bowl, combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and a tablespoon of water. Add to the wok with the chargrilled pineapple, peppers, onion and peas. Bring everything just to a boil, then simmer lightly over a low heat for another 2 minutes or so, until thickened and reduced a bit.
  9. Sprinkle with the cilantro and squeeze the lime over the top, and then serve.


Need a wok for your kitchen? If so, give Foodal’s Wok Buying Guide a quick read.

Sweet and Sour Prawns Recipe| Foodal.com


About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

14 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour Prawns”

  1. Chinese food has gotten a bad reputation here in the states, but when prepared properly, as above, it can be nutritious and delicious. I would never have thought to include onion or cilantro in the dish. I’m starting to cook Asian at home, and have many of these ingredients, but this recipe makes me want to obtain the rest and cook this right away, it looks and sounds so delicious.

    • It can be dubious here in the UK too so it’s always nice to cook it yourself, that way, you know the provenance of the ingredients.

    • The western version has become laden with some less-than-healthy modifications, but there’s no need to prepare it that way at home. Done with a light hand, it can be crisp, tasty and nutritious. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Okay, thanks for making me hungry… again. This looks beautiful. I’d serve this up in a heartbeat.

    I’d make any of the varieties, using chicken or any other substitute too, but prawns? How wonderful. What a mouth-watering meal. My husband would love this.

  3. What’s the easiest way to find unsweetened pineapple juice? Maybe it’s just me but it seems like everywhere I look there’s added sugar in the juice. Maybe Whole Foods?

    • Dole has 100% unsweetened pineapple juice, and it will say so on the front of the can. Ask your grocer if they can bring it in for you.

  4. Ill be completely honest with you. If inwasmgiven access to a kitchen with all these ingredients and told me to cook or die, I’d start writing my will out. It always amazes me how y’all can come up with these things. Where do your ideas come from. Because as far as I can tell there isn’t a lot of things similar to this recipe.

  5. Well, I think with recipes the saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ applies pretty well. A substitution can often be that ‘secret ingredient’ that was previously missing….

  6. I recall indulging in prawns awhile back in the day and they were heavenly, i couldn’t recall how the chef prepared them, his chinese accent got in the way whilst in deep explanation, i got lost in the whole explanation process 🙁 .All the same they were incredibly awesome, thanks for the recipe, now i can try cooking my own prawns…really excited 🙂


Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.