Singapore Chile Shrimp

Another “Fastest” (I use the term loosely) recipe from Milk Street Tuesday Nights, and with ingredients that speak to me, this Singapore Chili Shrimp recipe was calling my name. Psyched to be complete in 20 minutes from start to finish as per the book notation, I was totally dismayed however when it took more than an hour! Now part of that is our fault for buying jumbo shrimp with heads and shells intact (which I had to take the time and remove); but that was intentional for making future homemade shellfish stock.

Anywho, after all of the chopping and processing of most of the ingredients, I was none-too-thrilled when I realized after the liquid was drained from both batches, the rest was thrown away. This meant the dinner would consist of merely shrimp and sauce over rice with a garnish of sliced scallions—which seemed pretty paltry for 4 servings. I was convinced I wouldn’t be making this recipe again. But then I tasted it…


OMG, the flavors! This shrimp dish features a perfect balance of sweet, savory and spicy. I was surprised by the ketchup, but apparently it’s a standard ingredient in Singapore Chili Shrimp. To achieve a shrimp flavor that suffuses the dish, a few raw crustaceans get puréed into the sauce; giving it a rich, full-bodied consistency. Serve with steamed rice.

For a more complete meal I added a side of baby bok choy seared with shallots, garlic, soy sauce and a hint of red pepper flakes.


Don’t overcook the shrimp. Remove them from skillet as soon as they turn opaque. Even better with extra-jumbo shrimp; if you use smaller, they’ll require a shorter cooking time. (Below, I changed the number of servings and time factor to reflect our experience in making this dish.)


Singapore Chile Shrimp

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 4 Large shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 2-Inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick
  • 1 Stalk lemon grass, trimmed to the lower 5 to 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, chopped
  • 6 Large garlic cloves
  • 6 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
  • 6 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1¾ Pounds extra-jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and patted dry
  • 3 Tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
  • 3 Scallions, thinly sliced on bias


  1. In a food processor, finely chop the shallots, ginger, lemon grass and garlic, about 15 seconds, scraping the sides as needed. Set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Rinse out and dry the workbowl, then add the ketchup, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, vinegar, 6 tablespoons water and 6 of the shrimp (4 ounces). Process until smooth, about 20 seconds, then set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add half the remaining shrimp in an even layer and cook without disturbing until deep golden brown on the bottoms, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Stir and cook until opaque on both sides, another 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the remaining shrimp, adding them to the first batch.
  5. In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the pureed shallot mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the ketchup mixture and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Pour through a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl, pressing on the solids; you should have about 1¼ cups liquid. Discard the solids.

  8. Return the liquid to the skillet, pour in any accumulated shrimp juices and set the pan over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  9. Remove from heat, add the shrimp and stir until heated through, 30 to 60 seconds.
  10. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with scallions.

Recipe from Milk Street Tuesday Nights

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