Ginger, Garlic & Chili Shrimp


In this quick and easy recipe — adapted from The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift  — jumbo shrimp are bathed in a brine flavored with salt, sugar and chili powder, and then sautéed with loads of fresh ginger and garlic. It’s a delicious and flavorful dish that appeals to kids and adults alike. In fact, the recipe headnote reads: “If there is one recipe in this book that is guaranteed to have your family moaning with gratitude, this is it. After eating these shrimp, a five-year-old has been known to say, ‘Wow, Mom, thanks!’ And they’ve driven a grown woman to shamelessly lick her plate—in front of everyone.” (Thanks to my friend, Kim Cohen, for sharing the recipe with me!)


Before we get started, a few words on buying shrimp. Unless you live on the coast and have access to fresh shrimp, it’s best to buy frozen. The “fresh” shrimp you see in the seafood case at the supermarket are almost always thawed frozen shrimp, and you never know how long they’ve been sitting there. Most shrimp are cleaned and flash frozen shortly after being caught, so you’re better off buying frozen shrimp and defrosting them yourself.  For this recipe, try to find jumbo frozen shrimp (21-25 to a pound) labeled “shell split and deveined.” Come dinnertime, all you have to do is run the shrimp under warm water to quickly defrost and then peel.


Begin by whisking together the water, kosher salt, sugar and chili powder.


Drop the shrimp in the brine and let them sit for about 20 minutes.


Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan, and cook the ginger and garlic for one minute.


Add the sugar and cook 1-2 minutes more. Do not let the garlic brown.


Drain the shrimp in a colander.


Then add the shrimp to the pan and cook until done, 3-4 minutes.


Serve the shrimp over white or jasmine rice. The sauce is salty (in a good way) so be sure not to salt the rice. Enjoy!


Note: After making this recipe as it was originally printed, I made some minor modifications without any noticeable change in flavor. I increased the amount of shrimp from 1-1/2 pounds to 2 pounds (since frozen shrimp are usually sold by the pound) and reduced the brine by half (the recipe made a ton, and it was unnecessary). To see the original version, click here.

Ginger, Garlic & Chili Shrimp

Print Recipe
Servings: 4
Total Time: 30 Minutes


For the Brine

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (defrosted)

For Cooking

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • One 4-inch x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, sugar, chili powder and water. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Drop in the shrimp and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan (preferably nonstick) over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue stirring until the garlic is pale gold, 1-2 minutes more. Do not let the garlic turn dark brown.
  3. Drain the shrimp in a colander, and immediately add to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are pink and barely firm, another 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with rice.
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  • I’ve got that cookbook and I remember seeing this recipe but had forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder! Yours looks fabulous!

  • That looks delicious! I love using fresh ginger with shrimp.

  • Does the brine make the shrimp more tender?

    • Jenn

      Hi Meg, Not really, but it adds tons of flavor.

  • Could I use a sugar substitute? Trying to do a no sugar detox right now but this looks great!

    • Jenn

      Hi Amanda, Can you have honey or agave? I think those would work.

    • Blake

      The sugar in the brine serves a purpose but the sugar added later is totally uncalled for.

  • Also, do you defrost the shrimp first?

    • Jenn


  • No, nothing with any sugar content…stevia, splenda?

    • Jenn

      I’d try it with splenda…I find the taste of stevia to be bitter.

  • Batzion

    Going to make this yummy-sounding shrimp dish for sure but am going to substitute vegetable oil with coconut oil.

    I wonder how this would be with the Peruvian chicken green sauce on the side — any excuse to use that sauce.

    • Lisa

      I love that sauce!!!

  • Amy Simonson

    Yum! Thanks for the dinner idea!

  • ellen tinder

    can you use dried ginger and minced garlic

    • Jenn

      Hi Ellen, Unfortunately, dried ginger won’t work in this recipe. Fresh minced is a must. Hope you enjoy it!

  • How do you make more sauce for the shrimp?

    • Jenn

      Hi Meryl, I find that this dish has plenty of sauce but if you’d like more, you might try adding a bit more ginger and garlic, and adding a few tablespoons of the brine to the pan along with the shrimp.

  • Theresa Kaye

    So good and so easy, never used frozen shrimp before since I live on the coast, but I thought with your comments I would try it. They were great and I will be making it many more times. Thank you so much for your recipes, I get excited everytime one arrives in my email.

  • Cheryl Fortunato

    Made this for dinner last nice with rice, everyone gobbled it up! Easy weeknight dish, fresh ingredients, a definite repeater….thanks!!

  • Jackie

    This was delicious and so easy!

  • Lonnise

    I purchased the ingredients for this recipe then realized I am out of Kosher salt.

    Can I use table salt instead? If so, how much should I use.


    • Jenn

      Hi Lonnise, You would use about half the amount if substituting table salt.

  • Mary

    Hello, do you have any nutritional info?

    • Jenn

      Hi Mary, Sorry I am not able to provide nutritional info at this time. It is something I’m working on. In the meantime, you can find my recipes on Yummly and they do provide nutritional info. This one looks a little off for the sodium because there’s so much salt in the brine (most of it is discarded). Here’s the link:

      link to

      • Mary


  • Phil

    The shrimp were so salty we couldn’t eat them

    • Jenn

      Hi Phil, I am so sorry to hear that. I can see how someone who is sensitive to salt might find this dish a bit salty, but for most people it should be fine. I would say that it’s pleasantly salty in the way that most Asian dishes are. (That’s why I recommended in the post to serve it with unsalted rice.) I have made this dish many times and the recipe has been published in several places, including Gourmet — believe it or not, my version actually has less salt than the original recipe. I’m wondering, did you soak the shrimp for longer than 20 minutes? And did you drain all the brine before adding the shrimp?

  • Phil

    Jenn- No, just 20 minutes and of course I drained them. They were really salty. I am surprised that no one else thought they were salty. Just not used to so much salt I guess. Thank you for the response.

  • Terri

    Did you use TABLE salt instead of Kosher salt?

    • Phil

      Yes,I used kosher salt and I follewed the directions exactly.

  • dedee

    Great recipe, I’m gonna try it. Please send me future recipes to my email.

  • Joan

    Delish!!!! and oh so easy….going to send a copy to my daughter who is just learning how to cook!!
    Thank you!!!
    P.S. I never use salt when cooking, unless absolutely necessary, so when I read Phil’s comment, I only used a slight sprinkling of Kosher salt and and everything was delicious and NO LEFTOVERS!

  • edbtxas

    Tried this recipe. Simple Easy and Delicious!

  • Jeanne

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I just tried it and it’s delicious!

  • M

    Another tasty and easy recipe – thank you!
    I increased the amount of garlic and cut back on the salt and sugar a little and it was really delicious. (I also used Japanese sugar which dissolves a little more easily than regular granulated sugar.)

  • Amber

    This is one of my husband’s favorite shrimp recipes. I reduce the ginger by about 1/2 what is called for, and the ginger flavor still stands out. I think with the full amount it would be too strong for me. I get fresh gulf shrimp from my husband’s family, so the most difficult part of this recipe is peeling and deveining the shrimp. But since they are fresh, I can’t complain! I serve this often, with brown or jasmine rice, and a green veggie, usually garlic broccoli or steamed green beans.

  • F. Shea

    Favorite recipe! We cook this once a week. Serve with quinoa. Awesome.

  • Rebecca

    This looks delish! I will be trying this tonight!

  • Colleen

    Waaaay too salty. It’s a shame…2lbs of shrimp wasted. We could only eat a little bit of the shrimp and we are not sensitive to salt. I salt items more than the average person. I drained all the brine after exacty 20 mins and did not serve with anything else salty. Very disappointing.

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