Stir-Fried Shrimp: Shanghai Style

This you bao xia, or stir-fried shrimp, is a dish that’s loved by many in Shanghai, and it has become my go-to method for cooking whole shrimp whenever I can. I absolutely love the flavors and texture of this dish, and I’m excited to share it with you.

Outside of the Zhejiang and Shanghai areas, you rarely find this dish. The ancient water towns of Zhou Zhuang, Wu Zhen, and Xi Tang in Zhejiang are as well-known as the province’s seafood. Interesting fact: a significant portion of Mission: Impossible III was shot in Xi Tang! Please only leave China with seeing at least one of these historic water towns. All your pictures will look like they were taken in an ancient Chinese painting; it’s that picturesque.

Authentic shrimp for this shrimp stir-fry dish should come from fresh water, so I’ve mentioned ancient water towns. I’ve heard that they are more popular in Shanghai than their saltwater counterparts. We’re using plain old shrimp from the ocean because the secret to this dish’s success is the special way it’s cooked, not the type of shrimp or where it was caught.

This You Bao Xia dish was a first for my husband. As he tucked in, he remarked that it might be even better than our Salt and Pepper Shrimp dish. That’s saying a lot because I know how excellent they are. In terms of appearance, this dish is a sure bet. We guarantee that this shrimp stir-fry will impress both you and your guests.

You must use uncooked and whole shrimp, shells, and all for this stir-fry. Shrimp will dry out if the shell is cut. Finally, you can go right if you want to ensure the shrimp is good before peeling off the shells. A lot of flavors, and who knows what else might be lurking there. One of your options is to consume the entire thing.


  • 1 lb. of medium shrimp(450g, size: 21/30)
  • 1 cup of oil (for frying)
  • 2 scallions (white portion only)
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 1 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of sesame oil
  • Salt (to taste)


  1. Get started by cleaning and cooking the shrimp. Remove the legs and the pointy top of the head using kitchen shears. Then, devein the shrimp by gently exposing the vein and pulling it out with a toothpick (photo below). Shrimp should be washed, drained, and dried with a paper towel before cooking.
  2. In a wok, heat the oil over high heat until it smokes. Submerge the shrimp in the oil in two separate batches, being careful not to splash. Fry for 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. The shrimp will rapidly become opaque. Quickly transfer them to a metal strainer to prevent the oil from returning to the wok splattered during the transfer. Don’t eat those shrimp just yet.
  4. Allow the oil to reheat to the point of smoking. In two batches, place the shrimp back into the hot oil and fry for another 5-10 seconds. Overfrying will dry out the shrimp, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  5. Turn off the heat and transfer all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok to a heat-safe bowl. At this point, turn the heat down to low and add the ginger and white parts of the scallions. Make sure the aroma fills the kitchen after cooking for 2 minutes. Bring in the chicken stock, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and vinegar. Raise the temperature until the liquid reaches a simmer. Blend for a minute and a half.
  6. The scallions and ginger can now be removed from the wok, or they can be left in there if desired. At last, return the shrimp to the wok and drizzle in the sesame oil.
  7. For 5-10 seconds of stir-frying, just long enough to get the shrimp coated in the sauce. Taste and adjust salt.
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