Easy Stir-Fry: Prawns in Chili Sauce & Ketchup


Have you ever questioned yourself the difference between shrimp and prawn? Do you say shrimp or prawn? For me, I have always been using the term prawn. I have this idea that shrimp is slightly smaller than prawn. They both apparently are quite similar looking, but, in reality, they are not that similar. Anyway, this has been in my head for quite a while and until recently, I decided to look up the differences between shrimp and prawn.

Based on the research that I have done on the internet, I have learnt that not only shrimp and prawn are not alike,  the term of shrimp or prawn is used because of difference in culture too. In the UK, prawn is used to refer to both prawn and shrimp, while shrimp is a common term use to refer to both shrimp and prawn in the US.  According to Wikipedia, both are decapod crustaceans, meaning they have exoskeletons and 10 legs. They are found in fresh and salt water. Appearance wise, they could look pretty similar. However, a number of the differences are: prawn is slightly larger than shrimp. Apart from that, it was found that prawn’s legs are longer than those of shrimp’s. Prawn has transparent shell compared to more pigmented/coloured shell of shrimp.

After all, I don’t really think that they are so different from each other. I guess, for me, it’s probably just a matter of term used that makes us thing both are different. Anyway, I guess, prawns are probably what I normally buy and I don’t really check if they are prawns or shrimps. For a seafood lover like me, prawns or shrimps, they are fine for me, I love both!

You probably recall the post about my visit to a fishing port in Kuala Perlis, Malaysia. There are 2 photos of prawns that were freshly caught. When I looked at them again, I really wish I could get those fresh salt water prawns here! I craved for the one of the dishes that my mom made when I was back home. Well, I could have bought some big fat prawns from the fish market but I didn’t as they cost a bomb! So, without much choices, I resorted to frozen ones and I think they were farmed. Anyway, that aside, I got my prawns and I was happy that at least, I could recreate the taste of home. (Yes, I still feel homesick!)

This simple dish, I call prawns in chili sauce and ketchup. To be honest, it is such a humble dish that you only need to have a few ingredients. But, taste wise, it is so delicious that I think I ended up eating more than 10 prawns!! So, that’s the revenge of not having prawns for quite a while (actually just a few weeks!). I am pretty sure for seafood lovers (or prawn/shrimp lovers), you will love this!

One thing about this recipe, I leave the heads and shells on for one reason – better taste! As I deep fried prawns before cooking them again in the sauce, I think all the flavours of the prawns were captured in the shells. I did trim away the legs, pincers, antennal scale, antenna, and rostrum of each prawn. And of course, deveined them! For those who are not comfortable to leave the heads and shells on, you can still make this, but, I think the taste will be slightly different.


Prawns in Chili Sauce & Ketchup



1kg tiger prawns, shelled on
2cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
3 spring onion
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chilli, sliced (optional)
2 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp Maggi chilli sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp soya sauce
2-3 tbsp water


1. In a wok and deep frying pan, heat up enough vegetable oil to cover prawns when frying. When it is warm, shallow fry prawns in batches for about 5-6 minutes or until pink. Repeat until the whole batch finishes, set aside.

2. In a new pan, pour over 1 tbsp spoon of the vegetable oil. Under medium heat, put in garlic, onion and ginger. Cook until soft. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and add into the pan. Stir well.

3. Add in cooked prawns, spring onions and cut fresh chili (if using). Cook and stir for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.