THE Chinese community have a penchant to give auspicious sounding names to their cuisine and Chinese New Year is the time that these names usually appear on the menu.
Prawns are usually considered auspicious because the word in Cantonese - hee haa dai siu - sounds like laughing out loud.
There are countless ways to cook prawns for Chinese New Year, and every family has their own version. It does not matter what the recipe is as long as it contains prawns and they are large, sometimes extra large.
This recipe is pan-fried prawns. It has remained an all-time favourite because the simple ingredients retain the unadulterated flavour of the prawns.
This dish is easy to prepare and will be enjoyed by all as long as the prawns are fresh.
Because the price of prawns tends to increase closer to Chinese New Year, some people buy them ahead of time and freeze them.
While I am not a fan of frozen prawns, sometimes I resort to using them because fresh ones are too expensive.
My wife’s solution to retain the freshness of prawns is to fill up a plastic container with prawns and pour in cold water until it levels with the top of the prawns. It is important to freeze them quickly before crystals form in the ice.
Next is to thaw out the whole block of prawns when needed.
I find the texture will not be as good as fresh but at least it is not so costly.
You can split the spine of the prawns to devein the intestinal tract, but I like to keep the shells intact. I learned the trick to push a toothpick into the middle gap of the carapace and pull out the gut.
It is quite satisfying when the whole vein comes out together with the black content.
Since we are frying the prawns on high heat, the dish will appear to be quite charred.
Do not be alarmed because the brief cooking time will not turn it bitter, but will add a nice wok hei element to the dish, like the breath of the wok to breathe a fresh start to the new year.Pan-fried Prawns
Ingredients12 large prawns, about 400g
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5g old ginger, finely julienned
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
½ teaspoon sugar
4 tbsp cooking oil
1 sprig scallions, chopped
1 red chilli, julienned
Method1. Devein the prawns and trim off the horns and whiskers.
2. Heat cooking oil in a wok over medium heat. Fry ginger until crispy. Reserve ginger to be used as garnish.
3. In the ginger oil, add chopped garlic and lightly saute until soft. Bring heat up to high. Add prawns and fry on one side
for about two minutes. Flip prawns over and fry for another minute until well charred. Add the wine, soy sauce and sugar. Toss quickly.
4. Remove from wok and arrange on a platter. Garnish with scallions, chillies and crispy ginger and serve hot.