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How to Make Quick and Easy Chilli Prawn Paste

I used to work in my family's restaurant and helped run it. I love good food, and I've cooked family meals for over 60 years.

A jar of my homemade chilli prawn paste

A jar of my homemade chilli prawn paste

Chilli Prawn Paste (aka Chilli Shrimp Paste)

I absolutely love chilli, possibly to the extent where it could be said that I have an addiction. It doesn’t have to be so hot that my eyes stream and I run around choking, though I confess this does happen from time to time. I actually prefer the slightly milder chillies, where you can taste the flavor, as well as being hit by the capsaicin.

When I make this chilli prawn paste, I have to keep it hidden out of view in a cupboard; otherwise, I would be eating it by the teaspoon all day long—and you know what that can do to a person’s digestion. Let’s just say very good if you want a natural colonic clean-out, not so good if you are travelling!

How the Recipe Evolved

I first got this idea for a recipe after buying Chinese crispy prawn chilli from a Chinese wholesalers, Wing Yip, in North London.

I started craving it and suffering from withdrawal symptoms when the bottle was empty and I couldn't immediately get hold of any more because it was too far to travel.

It just seemed like common sense to check the label to find out approximately what was in the ingredients, and then see if I could come up with something different but just as nice.

I feel quite satisfied with the result, though I say it myself.

The last spoonful of my purchased chili prawns

The last spoonful of my purchased chili prawns

Necessary Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Large frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Food blender
  • Jar or container for the finished product
Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

20 min

1 small jar (about 25 servings)




  • 6 oz chillies
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon chilli prawn powder or dried prawns
  • 1 red pepper (optional)
  • ¼ onion (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil for frying, and additional olive oil to cover the contents in a jar
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar (or half sugar/half Stevia)
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Teaspoons lemon juice
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Read More From Delishably

How to Vary the Hotness

Some chilies are very hot indeed, and others so mild that they are almost like peppers. So just choose your chillies carefully. And, of course, the more red pepper as opposed to chilies goes into the mixture, the milder it will be, as the hot flavor will be diluted.

Incidentally, if your mouth is burning and your whole face tingling, don't drink water—it will just prolong the agony. Instead, take a mouthful of yogurt, or drink some milk.


  1. Wash the chilli and pepper and cut off the stems. You can use the chilli seeds, but discard the red pepper seeds. Chop them into small pieces. Then peel and finely chop the garlic and, if you are using it, chop the onion.
  2. Fry the chilli, pepper and garlic (and onion if you are using it) in the olive oil for about five minutes, on a medium to high heat, adding the prawn powder or dried prawns, and stirring regularly to ensure uniform browning without sticking to the base of the pan.
  3. Add sugar and salt to taste, turn down the heat and continue cooking until the mixture is fairly dark in colour, adding the lemon juice just before the end.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a food blender, adding a little more olive oil to make it more liquid. Blend until the mixture turns into a slightly lumpy paste (it’s quite nice to find a tiny lump of chilli or prawn in your mouth, rather than a completely smooth paste).
  5. Empty the mixture into a small jar and cover the contents with a small amount of olive oil, which will help to preserve it.
Chillies, dried prawns and garlic

Chillies, dried prawns and garlic

More Information

This quantity will make a small bottle of chilli prawn paste, which will last up to a month, or even more, if completely covered with olive oil. To double the recipe and make two bottles, simply double the quantities for each ingredient.

This paste really needs to be a bit sweet as well as a bit hot, so it does need sugar. However, I have suggested an alternative, using part sugar and part Stevia.

I think sugar has a better flavor, but if you are health-conscious, Stevia is OK when it's well disguised in a jar of chilli.

Using red pepper and onion will bulk up the ingredients, and the pepper will make the mixture less strong, whilst the onion will add a slightly different flavour. Just experiment, experiment—that’s what I do.

Chillies, red pepper and garlic frying

Chillies, red pepper and garlic frying

Storage Notes

Be sure to label the bottle with the contents and date. This paste is best stored in the fridge, but it does keep quite well in the store cupboard.

Red chilli

Red chilli

What part does chilli play in your life? (I sssume you like chilli or you wouldn't be on this page!)

Video About Garlic and Chilli Prawns

© 2014 Diana Grant

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