Making Sweet and Sour Shrimp

This simple classic of Chinese-American cooking is actually more American than anything else. The dish is often made with a red sugar syrup, but use Asian plum sauce for better flavor. The recipe serves four.


  • Remember that steps 1 through 6 can be done well in advance.
  • The sauce can be modified to suit your taste. If you prefer it sweeter or more sour, add more sugar or vinegar as you desire. You can season the sauce with any number of additions, including fresh ginger, Asian five-spice powder, hoisin sauce or citrus juice. Experiment and have fun.
  • Some recipes call for the shrimp to be shelled, deveined and batter-fried first.
  • The ideal shrimp for this recipe are small and bite-sized - about the length of your index finger. Always buy them frozen and thaw them just prior to cleaning.


  1. Cut the pineapple into bite-sized chunks. Reserve about 1/4 c. pineapple juice.
  2. Cut the onion and bell pepper into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Peel, devein and butterfly the shrimp. Set it aside.
  4. Mix the ketchup, sugar, vinegar and plum sauce together in a small saucepan.
  5. Heat the pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very hot. Stir the mixture so it doesn't scorch.
  6. Stir in the pineapple juice. The sauce should be thin enough to pour but thick enough to coat a spoon. Add water to thin the sauce, if necessary.
  7. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat.
  8. Pour in the peanut oil and swirl the skillet or wok.
  9. Stir-fry the onions and peppers until they begin to brown. Use high heat so that the vegetables take on some color before they soften too much; the vegetables should still be crisp when the dish is finished.
  10. Stir in the shrimp, season with salt and stir-fry for 1 minute or until the shrimp begins to turn pink.
  11. Add the pineapple and about half the sauce and stir everything together until the dish is heated through.
  12. Serve immediately. This dish is great served over steamed white rice.

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