Ebi Chili is a quick, easy and delicious Chinese inspired dish that is well loved in Japan. Juicy prawns and fragrant spring onions served in a thick homemade sweet and spicy chili sauce. Perfect served with fluffy, Japanese rice!
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What is ebi chili?
Ebi chili is a popular dish made up of juicy stir-fried shrimp that have been coated in a mildly sweet and spicy sauce.
In Japanese, "ebi" (エビ) means shrimp and the "chili" part of the name comes from the English word.
Despite the vibrant red color and the name "chili" making it sound very hot, it's actually not that spicy. Japanese people are not so good with very spicy foods so this dish is often made quite mild.
It's enjoyed at home, in bento boxes, you name it! It's a well loved dish in Japan.
Ebi chili originated from Sichuan in China, a place well known for their love for bold spicy flavours. (Think mapo tofu, kung pao chicken and tantanmen!)
I'd say dishes from Sichuan are probably the most popular Chinese foods in Japan, but they are often adapted to suit Japanese tastes. That means making them less spicy.
One of the most important ingredients in this dish is called "la doubanjian" (affiliate link). It can also be spelled toban djian and is commonly known in English as "Chili Bean Paste". It's a spicy fermented bean paste from Sichuan and it's delicious!
It's a pretty popular ingredient so if you live near an Asian supermarket, look for a label with "辣豆瓣酱" or ask for Chinese chili bean paste. I'm sure you'll find it!
If you can't get it, I've read about a few substitutions you can try. (I warn you though, the taste will be quite different!)
- Sambal Oelek (Thai chili paste)
- Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- Mix black bean paste with chili flakes
- Mix oyster sauce with chili flakes
So you have a few options to try but if you like spice and you're interested in Chinese and Japanese cooking, I really recommend buying a small jar of la doubanjian. Once opened you can keep it for a year in the fridge so you don't need to rush to use it up and it really is delicious!
You can make this dish easily with shrimp that has already been prepared and cooked. If you're using fresh shrimp, follow these steps for the best results!
Remove the shells by splitting the shell in the middle of the legs and pulling it clean off.
Cut down the back of the shrimp to reveal the vein. You can pull it out using the tip of the knife, a toothpick or your fingers.
If you don't want to cut it, you can use a toothpick to pull it out from the top. (Although sometimes it snaps if you do this.)
Put the shrimp in a bowl with 1 tsp of corn starch and a few pinches of salt. Rub it all over the surface of the shrimp until completely covered and then rinse with water. This makes them super clean and they always taste better if you do this!
Let's get started!