Comfort Cooking: Two ways to cook prawns - salt-baked or steamed

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STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo shares two recipes for cooking prawns.

SINGAPORE - Savour a seafood-themed lunch or dinner with these two quick and fuss-free ways of cooking prawns.

Salt-baked prawns are easy to cook and can be served in the pan. Besides the prawns, the key ingredients are coarse salt and rice wine. The rice wine helps stave off fishy odours and add aroma and depth of flavour to the prawns.

Avoid using a non-stick pan for this dish as frying the coarse salt will wreak havoc on the non-stick coating.

To minimise damage to your frying pan, stir-fry the salt minimally. After use, wash the pan thoroughly with soap and rinse it well. Dry the pan and apply enough oil to coat the inside of it.

I have a soft spot for angka prawns, which are wild-caught prawns. For optimum taste and texture, use fresh prawns. If you buy prawns but plan to use them only later, try to buy the freshest ones possible and freeze them immediately upon getting home.

To steam prawns, it is best to use a bamboo steamer so that the steaming liquid does not pool around the prawns. If you do not have one, use a small metal colander or make do with a metal rack in a deep heat-proof dish.

I have included a simple but tasty dipping sauce to go with the steamed prawns. The addition of chopped garlic and lime juice lifts the classic dip of light soya sauce and sliced chilli.

Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo, and StraitsTimes Food on Instagram and Facebook @straitstimesfood

Salt-baked prawns


8 large prawns (532g)

180g coarse salt

30ml Chinese rice wine (bai mi jiu)

Equipment: A frying pan with a cover.



1. In a pan, heat the coarse salt and fry over high heat for three minutes.

2. Remove one-third of the salt and set aside in a heat-proof dish, leaving the remaining salt in the pan.

3. Distribute the salt in the pan as evenly as possible.

4. Place the prawns in a layer over the salt in the pan, arranging them with tails in the centre of the pan.

5. Pour the rice wine over the prawns.

6. Add the salt that was removed earlier over the prawns.

7. Cover the pan and cook the prawns for three and a half minutes. Switch off the heat and let the prawns continue to cook in residual heat for another 45 seconds. The prawns' shells should turn orange and the meat should be opaque when cooked.

8. Remove the cover and serve in pan.

Serves two.

Steamed prawns with dipping sauce



1 litre of water

8 medium-sized prawns (268g)

10g spring onion, cut into 5cm lengths

20g ginger, sliced

1/8 (one-eighth) tsp salt

Equipment: Bamboo steamer with lid and a wok with a cover.


1. Add 1 litre of water to the wok and bring it to a boil.

2. Place the prawns in the bamboo steamer.

3. Place the spring onion and ginger slices over the prawns.

4. Sprinkle the salt over the prawns.

5. Cover the bamboo steamer with its lid. Place bamboo steamer in the wok with boiling water. Cover and steam for two minutes. Switch off the fire and let the prawns cook in residual heat for another 30 seconds. Remove the bamboo steamer from the wok.

6. Serve immediately.

Serves two.

Dipping sauce


30ml light soya sauce

3 green or red chilli padi, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 lime


1. Place light soya sauce in a small bowl.

2. Add the chilli and garlic.

3. Use a strainer to squeeze the lime juice into the sauce.

4. Mix well and serve.

Serves two.

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