Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

Hong su Har is a very retro Chinese battered shrimp with stir-fried vegetables in a Cantonese brown sauce.
Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

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This dish was so much fun for me to put together. It is one of my husband’s favorite Chinese foods and has been since he was a child. His family would go to the Golden Dragon restaurant near their church in Milwaukee on Sundays after service. And this was ordered quite often.

It is very much a retro dish and you won’t find it everywhere. We were fortunate to see it on  the menu of Bon Chinese in Cincinnati when we moved down here from Dayton. Their version was very good. But their restaurant is across town. Then they changed ownership  and I don’t see it on the menu any more. So it may be that folks who know how to prepare it are retiring and falling out of memory.

I did find a reference to the dish in the Menus of the New York City public library, where it appears on the menu of a restaurant dating back to 1951. There were also several similar dishes: Hong Sue Gai (chicken), Hong Su Yee (fish) and Hong Su York (pork). And as far as I can tell, these are all prepared similarly.
Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)
You might almost confuse it with some dishes such as Hong Kong Chicken, but don’t. Different restaurants vary wildly on those,   and sometimes even use a red sweet and sour sauce (so disappointing!) And good Hong Kong Chicken will have a cutlet battered in  one piece. But I can  tell you that if in fact you are looking for one of the Hong Su dishes, this recipe will work for you. The brown sauce is not quite standard brown sauce (such as what you might use with Kung Pao Chicken albeit that one being spiced up), but is perfect in flavor. You can switch up the meats using the same batter.

The vegetables can vary a little bit too. Some might like to add either baby corn or bamboo shoots. The types can really vary, but I like an abundance of vegetables in my stir-fries, so have planned the sauce amount accordingly, so there is some for all the veggies. You can cut down the sauce by half and the vegetables as well if  you so desire. You can switch around the veggies you want in yours, perhaps doing a bit of vegetable bin cleanout in your fridge.

You can also choose to do this without the batter fry. *frown* But it just isn’t going to taste the same or have that wonderful textural experience. We don’t fry shrimp that much, but it is the holiday season here, so we splurged on the fry. And oh-em-gee was it ever good.

I hope you enjoy it as well as we do. I am  thrilled that this is part of the blog repertoire so my family need never worry where to find this dish- it is as close as the corner market with a bag of shrimp and armful of vegetables. And while the list of ingredients is long, it really isn’t that big a deal. Building sauces with a variety of veggies is like that, and perhaps you can even opt for a bag of chopped veggies in the salad section at your market.  It will definitely save a little time.
Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied, tail section intact
  • cooking oil
  • 1 onion, cut into slivers
  • 4 ounces carrots, sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • 6  ounces Chinese napa cabbage or bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh broccoli,  cut into small florets
  • 4 ounces snow pea pods, ends trimmed
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms,  sliced
  • 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • steamed rice (optional)

Fry Batter Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Steam your rice if you intend to have it ready.
  2. Peel shrimp leaving last tail section intact, then thinly slice almost all the way through, pressing shrimp open with your fingers to butterfly.
  3. Chop vegetables and leave in piles on a tray, ready to cook.
  4. Whisk together the ingredients for the fry batter in a small bowl.
  5. Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and keep nearby.
  6. Heat sufficient oil in a skillet to fry the shrimp.
  7. Dip the shrimp in the batter, allowing the excess to drip off then fry in  oil heated to 350°F for 3-5 minutes (until golden) and drain on paper toweling. My pan took three batches, so don’t crowd them.
  8. Heat a large skillet or wok with a little oil, about 2 tablespoonfuls, and add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan to give it a head start. 
  9. After a minute or two add the cabbage and broccoli and cook until the broccoli is bright green.
  10. Add the pea pods, mushrooms and water chestnuts, and cook until the mushrooms start to soften, then stir the sauce and add it to the pan.
  11. Stir until thickened, a few minutes longer.
  12. Serve the sauced vegetables over the fried shrimp just before serving- don’t do it ahead or the shrimp will get soggy, so do that at the table. Also serve with rice.

From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com

Hong Su Har (Crispy Shrimp and Vegetables in Brown Sauce)

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8 responses

  1. This sounds wonderful, Sue! I love all the vegetables, too! Don’t you just love it that you can replicate a favorite recipe like that? I’m sure this makes your husband very happy. <3 P~

  2. This sounds wonderful! I totally love stir fries, although my kitchen often looks like a hurricane hit it after I’m done, but the results are always so delicious.

    • You might see it occasionally on the menus at the old chop suey houses or places in older parts of town, that have been around awhile.

  3. i have been looking for recicpe for time. had in resturant in cedar rapids,iowa in the 70s this is the clostest i have seen thank you

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