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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).
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).
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).
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).

Har Lok Cantonese Dry Fry Prawns

5.0 from 16 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 15 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • 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 a kitchen towel.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok. Sauté prawns until shells turn orange. 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.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Chris 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 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 Felicity says:

    The photo indicates they are shelled...?

    • Anita 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. :)

  • Helen Of Fuss Free Flavours Helen Of Fuss Free Flavours says:

    I really like the sound of the flavours in this dish, and a great way to enjoy prawns. Shells or not. I love traditional dishes, and adapting them is not a problem for me. This would be lovely as a fakeaway on a Friday night.

  • Heidy L. McCallum Heidy L. McCallum says:

    This recipe for Har Lok Dry Fry Prawns sounds remarkable and so do-able!!! I can't wait to try this recipe this coming weekend.

  • Ashley Ashley says:

    Yummy!!! These look incredible! Can't wait to try them.

  • Chris Collins Chris Collins says:

    I'm always looking for new prawn recipes, so I'll definitely be giving this recipe a go. Looks delicious!!

  • Mary Mary says:

    OMG, these look amazing! I love prawns dry fried like this!

  • Michael Leong Michael Leong says:

    Hi Anita! Did for lunch today for the family. Totally delicious. Definitely on the menu roster. Thanks!

  • Yuen Yuen says:

    Tried this and it tastes good, thanks for the recipe!

  • Abigail Raines Abigail Raines says:

    I love the explosion of flavors in this delicious shrimp dish! It's a must-make!

  • Monica Monica says:

    I have never tried to dry fry shrimp/prawns - it's such an intriguing idea, and I'm sure imparts incredible flavor! Thanks for the fun new idea!

  • Michelle Michelle says:

    Yum! So delicious. The sauce is absolutely brilliant with just the right sweet-to-sour ratio.

  • Elaine Elaine says:

    The prawns to fight for! I don't have any at home right now but I can't wait to buy everything I need for this recipe now. The final result looks absolutely delicious!

  • Cookilicious Cookilicious says:

    That looks mouthwatering! I would love to try this recipewith tofu.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Great idea. I think the sauce will be perfect with some fried tofu cubes. :)

  • Libby Downer Libby Downer says:

    I'm adding this to my list of new recipes to try ASAP! This recipe sounds delicious and seems so easy. I love your tips about making sure the prawns are cooked correctly. Overcooking seafood can be too easy sometimes.

  • Mikaela Mikaela says:

    Love this recipe! Simple ingredients. Easy to make. And yes, a hit with the family. I did it with prawns at first and with squid few days after. Hubby loves it! 😁😁😁👍👍👍 I really enjoy your recipes.

  • Lany Susanto Lany Susanto says:

  • Barbara Barbara says:

    It’s delicious. Just had this for dinner and whole family (even kids) gave a big thumbs up. Easy to cook and these ingredients, every chinese household will definitely have in their larder. No marinating so it’s a really a good go to recipe. Thanks Anita.

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