Salted Egg Prawns is one of the most delicious and auspicious dish for Chinese New Year.I like that the word ‘prawns’ in the Chinese language sounds like our laugher (ha-ha), symbolising happiness.
Among other prawns recipes, I believe this is the most delicious way to enjoy the shelled fish. Flavourful ingredients used in this recipe – like salted egg yolks, butter and curry leaves – make this dish irresistible to many.
I normally prefer simplicity in cooking and health benefit plays a big role in my decision to make a dish. However, this time my goal is to make a dish that’s so tasty, that everyone can’t wait for another piece. We can and should indulge once in a while!
To make prawns that are super crispy, I followed a few steps(tips below) and used chicken stock which makes the dish as tasty as those served at seafood restaurant. The results? Crispy prawns which is so crunchy you can eat the shells too! The sauce is generous and flavourful, I’m confident that old and young would lick the prawns clean. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 4o minutes
To marinate and fry prawns:
Large prawns x 8 – 12 pieces (about 250 g)
White pepper x 1 tsp
Salt x 1 tsp
Corn starch x 1 tbsp
Cooking oil x 1/2 cup
Butter x 2 tbsp
Curry leaves x 3 stalks
Garlic x 3 cloves
Salted Duck Egg (yolk only) x 4
Chicken stock (optional) x 1 tsp
Salt x pinch
Sugar x pinch
Frying tongs (optional)
- Steam salted egg yolk: Place salted egg under running water to remove the coating. Break egg and remove the egg yolks. Steam egg yolks for 5 minutes until cooked and mash it with a fork.
- Mince garlic and remove curry leaves from stalk.
- Devein, rinse & dry prawns: Using a pair of scissors, snip the sharp parts of the prawns off. Do not remove the shell. Pat dry the prawns with paper napkins. We want to make sure that the prawns are crispy so make sure prawns are as dry as possible. Season with white pepper and salt.
TO FRY PRAWNS
- Heat wok to medium heat and pour enough oil to immerse the prawns.
- Dip prawns into a bowl of corn starch and deep fry for about half a minute. Remove from wok and put on a plate lined with paper napkins before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
TO COOK SAUCE & PRAWNS:
- Remove all oil from wok and pour about 2 tablespoon of oil. Heat oil on medium fire.
- Add in minced garlic and curry leaves for a few minutes until fragrant or when garlic begins to brown.
- Reduce heat, add butter.
- When butter is melted, add in mashed salted egg yolk. Use the spatula and mix all ingredients quickly and in a circular motion.
- Once egg foam forms, add in fried prawns. Season with sugar, salt and chicken stock.
- Mix all ingredients until every prawn is coated with the sauce. Remove from wok and serve hot.
- As presentation is very important, use the biggest prawns you can get. Note that prawns will shrink after they are cooked.
- For a healthier and easier version, you can bake prawns instead of frying prawns. You could also use an ‘air fryer’.
- I’ve tried with fresh prawns from the sea and farmed prawns. Perhaps because I purchased fresh prawns directly from the fisherman and different frying method, the former tasted much better and turned out crunchier.
- I’ve tried to double-fry to improve crispiness, but a bit of research shows that it’s a step that can be skipped as it won’t do much (Though the argument is on chicken, I believe that the same rule applies on prawns)
HOW TO MAKE SUPER CRISPY PRAWNS?
I was quite obsessed about making the prawns super crispy. So did some experiments and research. The best advise is from Kenji Lopez, an American chef and food writer.
Here are some notes I extracted and simplified from one of my favourite cookbooks ‘The Food Lab’. The general rule is right amount of oil heated to the right temperature. He even uses a thermometer! But in the interest of a regular home cooks like you and me, this is what you can do to lower the chances of less-than-crispy prawns:
- Don’t add too much food to the hot oil in a single batch. It will cause oil temperature to drop and food won’t crisp properly.
- Keep food as dry as possible. In this case, the drier you keep your prawns, the more effective it’ll fry better.
- Use fresh oil and keep it clean. The more you use a batch of oil, the less effective its frying ability will become. When frying the second batch, use a mesh wire to remove fine-mesh strainer.
- Constantly move the food. Don’t let food sit in oil. We want to expose food to fresh hot oil.
- Drain quickly on paper towels then on wire rack. After frying, immediately drop your food on a plate lined with paper towels, blot it and then transfer to a wire rack to allow circulation.
What will you be cooking for Chinese New Year?