Chili prawns

Click here for a PDF of this recipe without photos.

I’ve done quite a bit of traveling with my job, including frequent trips to Asia.  The first time I visited Malaysia was the first time I had the famous dish known as “Singaporean Chili Crab.”  To make chili crab, you crack, batter, and fry some mud crabs.  You then cover them in a spicy-tomato-chili-egg sauce.  Using your hands is the only way to eat them and getting the sauce on your shirt is mandatory.  The sauce ranges from spicy to very-very-very spicy (to me at least – a Singaporean would probably laugh at that characterization).  This is a mild version.  Feel free to increase the serrano chiles or chili paste.

There’s no way I would try to make chili crab at home.  (Even in Singapore this is rarely prepared at home.)  Using peeled shrimp makes this much more manageable to cook and especially to eat.

The first place I ever had this was at a restaurant in the Batu Ferringhi area of Penang, Malaysia.  Penang is famous for great food and, based on the handful of times I’ve been, you can’t go wrong when selecting a place to eat.  We chose a place that had a sign reading “if it swims we have it.”  Instead of a menu, they had a huge bank of glass tanks with various kinds of sea creatures waiting to be selected and prepared.  Photos after the jump.

  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 – 1.5 cups warm water
  • 2 Tb soy sauce
  • 1 Tb Tamarind paste
  • 2 Tb hot chili paste
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 3 – 4 thinly sliced green onions, white and light green parts only
  • 1 (or more) Serrano chiles, plus more for garnish
  • 1.5 – 2 Lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Cilantro

Mix first six ingredients in a bowl.  Stir until dissolved.  (Start with 1 cup of water and add more if necessary to reach a sauce-like consistency).

Heat oil in a nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, green onion, and Serrano chile and sautee for 1 – 2 minutes.  Add shrimp.  Cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Add sauce from the bowl.  Cook another 2 minutes.

Add eggs and continue stirring, ensuring that you break-up eggs with your spoon.  Continue cooking until both eggs and shrimp are fully cooked.  Serve with steamed rice.  Garnish with roughly chopped cilantro and ribbons or rings of Serrano chiles.


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