Dish of deep-fried prawns and preserved radish is worth the cooking hassle

Deep-fried prawns with preserved radish topping.
Deep-fried prawns with preserved radish topping. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

(THE NEW PAPER) - With the whole trend of simplifying and streamlining, there are times when you must ask yourself - are you ready to put in what it takes to make a dish?

If you are, then deep-fried prawns with a medley of preserved radish and chilli will have you digging with gusto into your meal sans cutlery.

I will not sugarcoat this: The deep-frying is really a pain because of the dreadful spluttering oil when you put your prawns in. I use my wok cover much like Don Quixote and his shield.

There are many ways to cook prawns, but this is one that truly rocks my wok. If you are patient, fry the prawns to the point where their shells are crisp and edible .

The savoury blanket of radish is pretty yummy. You might want to have some rice to go with it.

Deep-fried prawns and preserved radish

INGREDIENTS

8 prawns (angka prawns, 700g)
400ml cooking oil
10 curry leaves
60g garlic, chopped
60g chai poh (preserved radish), chopped
5 shallots (40g)
2 red finger chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2g spring onion, sliced
½ tsp sugar
10g unsalted butter
Eight 20cm bamboo skewers
 

METHOD
1. Clean the prawns. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, snip off the front part of the head, including the feelers, eyes, rostrum (the spiky beak at the top of the prawn head) and the front legs.
2. To butterfly the prawns, use the scissors to cut along the back of the prawn, starting behind the head and leaving the tail intact.
3. Remove the intestinal tract. Carefully cut a little deeper into the prawn meat to make a cavity without halving the prawns.
4. Skewer each prawn by pushing in the skewer from the tail and towards the head.
5. Place the prawns in the fridge for at least an hour to dry. Remove them from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking.
6. In a wok, heat 400ml oil on medium heat.
7. Place two to three prawns into the oil and cover as the oil will splutter.
8. Allow prawns to fry for 1½ minutes. Uncover, quickly turn the prawns and cook for another minute or until golden and crispy.
9. Remove prawns from wok and place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
10. Repeat steps 7 to 9 for remaining prawns.
11. Arrange prawns on serving dish.
12. Set aside 40ml of the oil used to cook the prawns.
13. Heat the remaining oil in the wok on low heat.
14. Fry the curry leaves for 30 seconds. Remove and set aside.
15. In a clean wok, heat the reserved 40ml of oil.
16. Fry the garlic for one minute over medium heat. Add the chai poh and fry for one minute. Add the shallots and fry for one minute. Add the red finger chillies and fry for 30 seconds. Add the spring onion and fry for 30 seconds. Season with sugar.
17. Add the butter and fry for another 30 seconds or until the butter is melted.
18. Turn off the heat and spoon the chai poh mixture over the prawns. Garnish with fried curry leaves and serve immediately.