Firecracker shrimp

This firecracker shrimp recipe is heavily influenced by a trip to Singapore in 2007. Cabarrus Health Alliance photo

Talk about having dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes – Then this is the recipe for you! Healthy, Lite and delicious are the main ingredients, that will make this dish a hit with you and your family tonight.

Firecracker shrimp – My first encounter with this wonderful Asian inspired dish was in Singapore back in 2007. I was invited to teach at “At-Sunrice Global Chef Academy” which is the Premier School for Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking, Food & Beverage Service courses in Singapore. I have to admit these kids were some of the best students I have ever taught. The commitment and work ethic were unbelievable from every student and the facility was amazing. Every night the students would either take me to a hawker stall or suggest an amazing eating experience for me to try.

A visit to Maxwell Hawker Center for firecracker shrimp had me coming back for more. Not only was it the first time I’d ever tried this amazing dish it was the first time I tried chicken rice at the now famous Tian Tian Hainanese stall which is now the most popular food stall in the Maxwell Hawker Centre, if not the most popular in all of Singapore! Especially after The Michelin Guide gave Tian Tian a Michelin Star (the first ever given to a street stall anywhere in the world).

If you ever get to visit and you’re in the mood for steamed chicken on rice but don’t have the time or inclination to wait in line, you can check out Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice just a few stalls down, who himself is a former staff member at his more famous neighbor. Another enduring favorite at Maxwell Hawker Centre is Rojak, Popiah & Cockle, which serves the Malay style mix of crispy bread, fruit and vegetable and egg mix all smothered in a bold, biting sauce – it’s one for the adventurous but locals love it! Maxwell Road Food Centre is surrounded by many of Chinatown’s best attractions and walking distance from Telok Ayer and Chinatown MRT subway stations. It’s also open until 10:00pm so you can enjoy a late meal there too.

Serves 4


1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

4 green onions, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

2 limes, juice only

2 tablespoons tamari

2 dried red chilies, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

¼ teaspoon ground star anise

4 cups large shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the stir-fried greens

2 tablespoons sesame oil

6 baby bok choy, cut in half

1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons tamari

How to cook:

Take a wok or large frying pan and place over a medium to high heat.

Add the fennel and cumin seeds and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and tip the spices into a small blender, blend until you have a fine powder.

Add the green onions, oyster sauce, cilantro, lime juice, tamari, chilies, rice wine, ginger and star anise and blend until you have a smooth marinate.

Place the shrimp into a medium size bowl and pour over the marinate from the blender. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and place the shrimp into the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.

Wipe out the wok and place it back over the stove, when the wok is hot, take a pair of tongs and pick up the shrimp one by one and place into the wok.

Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes, then turn over and continue to cook for 1 more minute or until the shrimp are cooked through, remove the shrimp from the wok and place on a plate lined with dish paper. Add the marinate to the wok, turn up the heat and boil until the marinate thickens to a sauce consistency, remove the wok from the stove and pour the sauce into a bowl, keep warm.

To make the stir-fried greens, wipe out the wok again and add the sesame oil, when hot add the bok choy, ginger and tamari and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until just wilted.

Serve the shrimp, sauce and greens immediately.

Chef Mark Allison

Mark Allison, Executive is Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out for more recipes and a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.

Mark Allison is Executive Chef of Culinary Innovation at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Check out for a list of upcoming cooking classes with Chef Allison.  Want more recipes?  Visit

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