Daily Cooking Quest

Har Lok Cantonese Dry Fry Prawns

Learn how to prepare this iconic easy 15-minutes Cantonese (Chinese) dry fry prawns with sweet and sour sauce using common everyday Chinese pantry sauces.

Both sets of my grandparents are Cantonese, so I grow up eating plenty of Chinese Cantonese dishes. For special occasions, we always have at least one seafood dish, and one of the most requested dish is this Cantonese dry fry prawns, a.k.a. Har Lok (干煎虾碌). This is such a quick and easy prawns dish to prepare, and the sweet and sour sauce is always a hit.

Ingredients to prepare har lok (Cantonese dry fry prawns).

Sweet and sour sauce for har lok (Cantonese dry fry prawns)

The sweet and sour sauce is very simple and using staple pantry sauces. You will need:

Har lok (Cantonese dry fry prawns).

Choosing the correct prawns size to use

Depending on the occasions, you can use either jumbo size prawns, or medium size prawns for this dish:

  • For really special occasions, like Chinese New Year, it is best to use the biggest size prawns you can get. My Mom always get jumbo size prawns for Chinese New Year, which is about 15-25 prawns per kilogram.
  • For everyday occasions, it is okay to use medium size prawns (which is what I use in the photos), and it should be about 40-50 prawns per kilogram.

Har lok (Cantonese dry fry prawns).

How to cook prawns so they stay crunchy

The biggest sin one can commit when preparing prawns/shrimps is overcooking. Anytime you cook prawns/shrimps, it is always best to undercook rather than overcook. Perfectly cooked prawns/shrimps will have crunchy texture, while overcooked ones will have chewy leathery texture, which is a big no no.

To prepare the perfect har lok, here are my tips:

  • When you fry the prawns in oil, be extra sure that the moment you see them turn orange, you should immediately remove from heat and transfer them to a plate.
  • When you return the fried shrimps to the pan to mix with the sauce, be sure to do this quickly. You should only need at most 30 seconds to toss the shrimps with the sauce. If for any reason you need more time than this, it is better to turn off the heat once the sauce boils, remove the pan/wok from heat source, then add the fried shrimps and toss.

I hope my recipe will lead you to perfectly crispy and crunchy prawns with delicious sweet and sour sauce.

Har lok (Cantonese dry fry prawns).

Har Lok Cantonese Dry Fry Prawns

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 15 mins

Serves: 4


  • 450 gram (1 lb.) prawns, preferrably medium/large size
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Sauce
  • 4 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste, optional)


  1. Remove heads from prawns, deveined but leave the body and tail shells intact, cut away the feet (feelers). Wash and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  2. Heat oil over medium high in a frying pan/wok. Sauté prawns until shell looks orange-ish. About 30 seconds. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same frying pan, fry garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sauce and brings to a boil.
  4. Return the prawns and half of the scallions into the boiling sauce, toss to coat.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Serve the prawns immediately, garnish with the remaining scallions.


  • Chris says:

    Hi Anita, This sounds like a really tasty recipe, BUT, leaving the body shell on makes it very fiddly & messy to eat! Will it work if I take off the head and body shell (& leave the tail intact?). Thanks.

    • Anita says:

      Hi Chris, sorry for the super late reply. But yes, you can take off the head and body shell if you wish and only leave the tail intact. :)

  • Felicity says:

    The photo indicates they are shelled...?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Felicity, I only removed the head from the prawns, the body shells were still intact, I did slice the top to devein though, maybe that made it looked like the shells were removed? But in any case, if all you can get are already shelled shrimps/prawns, you can use those too, just veering a little bit from the traditional recipe. :)

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