Cereal Butter Prawns (II)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Tips for making cereal butter prawns:

I've come across recipes that use oat which, if you think about it, isn't crisp before you cook it. So you fry it in butter and it's supposed to crisp up? No way! It just turns into a soggy mess. When you see recipes that use oat, run!

Fried Wontons

Monday, 17 October 2011

Fried wontons are different from wontons in soup, apart from the fact that they're fried.

The filling for boiled wontons should have dried sole (大地鱼, aka 铁脯). The fish is toasted till brown, crisp and fragrant, then chopped into little bits. If it's not available, deep-fried shallots are a good substitute. With either of these ingredients in the filling, wontons cooked in soup would have a rich, intense aroma they wouldn't have otherwise. In Hong Kong, the motherland of Wonton Soup, the stock used is made with dried sole, amongst other things.

Buah Paya Masak Titek (Peppery Papaya Soup)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

If I had a dollar for every bad recipe I come across . . . .

Who is it this time?

It's Sylvia Tan, whom I absolutely loathe because she's such a killjoy. She goes on and on about cutting out the fat from this, that and every other recipe. Biggest turn off ever, she is!

I used to have zero respect for Sylvia Tan, but that was before I saw her on TV. Believe it or not, she made skinless, low-fat (of course!) kong pao Chicken with sambal belachan! Did she think the people in Sichuan eat belachan? Or did she think it's OK to totally disregard the recipe's authenticity? After that awful, bastardized kong pao Chicken, my respect for her fell from a big fat zero into negative territory.

Udang Masak Nanas

Saturday, 2 July 2011

It's another Mrs Wee Kim Wee recipe today: udang masak nanas. This is the fourth recipe I've tried from Cooking for the President. It's a classic Nyonya soup made with, as its name says, udang and nanas – or prawns and pineapple for those who don't speak Malay. It's great for whetting the appetite 'cause it's slightly tangy and a wee bit spicy. And prawns are, for me, always a treat.

Udang masak nanas is an easy soup whether you masak as in cook for real, or masak-masak as in play at cooking. Just gather all the ingredients in a pot and simmer away – kid stuff!

My mother made a dish very similar to Udang Masak Nanas but, instead of prawns, she used a small fish called kekek (ponyfish). The president's wife sometimes used the wonderfully tasty fish too. That's not surprising since the basic recipe is quite common and adaptable. You know what's surprising? Mrs Wee made omelettes with pig brains on Sundays as a treat, just like my mother! Her daughter, like me, had to clean the brains with toothpicks. And the two cooks' recipes were practically the same, not that one could vary a Chinese style omelette much.

Sambal Udang

Monday, 13 June 2011

It wasn't just any ordinary sambal udang. It was Sambal Udang made with a recipe from Cooking for the President.

Who was cooking for which president? That'd be Mrs Wee Kim Wee cooking for her husband, as told by their daughter, Wee Eng Hwa.

Sambal udang was the first recipe I tried from Cooking for the President – Reflections & Recipes of Mrs Wee Kim Wee.

How was the Wee family recipe for prawns smothered in chilli paste?

It was excellent!

Cereal Butter Prawns (I)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Melt some butter and, when it's bubbling nicely, grab a few sprigs of curry leaves and rip off the leaves (with style, of course). Toss 'em in the wok, together with a roughly chopped up cili padi. Stir vigorously, knocking the spatula against the wok now and then. (Not sure what the knocking is for but that's what chefs do. Maybe it's a man thing?)

Butter, curry leaves and cili padi are all ingredients with pretty strong flavours but they complement rather than overwhelm each other. Each stands its ground, yet works with the other two to create a killer combination loved by young and old alike.

Har Lok (干煎虾碌, Dry-Fried Prawns)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Remember har lok? It was the prawn dish that ruled the scene before (relative) newbies like cereal prawns and butter prawns usurped its throne.

Steamed Prawns with Garlic

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Prawns make me happy. Nope, it's not because I'm a glutton, which I am. Nor is it because I love prawns, which I do. It's because prawns are chock-a-block full of vitamin B12, iron, tryptophan, vitamin D, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, which are all essential for keeping depression at bay. There's a physiological connection between food and mood . . . .  Hey, no wonder diets make me miserable!

What about the cholesterol? Prawns are full of nutrients but they're packed with cholesterol too. Three medium size prawns, 100 g or so, have about as much cholesterol as an egg yolk. Prawns are bad for you, right?

Tonnes of people believe they should limit the amount of cholesterol they eat, or face an early death from a heart attack or stroke. Everyone knows that, from doctors to the media, nutritionists, your friends, your mother, your dog, and your dog's fleas which suck only low cholesterol blood . . . . Everyone? Not quite. There's a small group of cholesterol skeptics who point out that:

Assam Prawns

Saturday, 28 August 2010

I love prawns every which way. All the way from live (!), to raw, steamed, poached, stir fried, pan fried, deep fried, grilled and baked. Not forgetting dried prawns, which I can't live without. Stinky and fermented shrimp paste? Pickled cincalok? Bring it on!

Honestly, there's no such thing as bad prawns, so long as they're fresh and not overcooked. Yup, even dried, fermented and pickled prawns must be made with the freshest catch if you want quality stuff.

Garlic Butter Prawns

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Cold Storage sells ready-made garlic butter made with these ingredients:
... vegetable oil
... butter (13%)
... water
... garlic (9%)
... parsley
... salt
... emulsifiers (492, 471 & B22)
... flavours
... vitamins (A & D3)
... colour (160a)
... antioxidants (306 & 320)

Spicy Dried Prawns – Hae Bee Hiam (蝦米香)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

PhotobucketYesterday, my neighbour gave me some groceries 'cause she was going away for a couple of weeks. It was mostly fruits and vegetables, stuff that she couldn't keep for much longer. There was a whole pile of shallots and garlic which were either perishing or flourishing, depending on how you looked at it. I didn't want to waste the budding bulbs, so some emergency action was needed to terminate the 'growing ambitions'. I sliced off the freshly sprouted roots and a few tiny shoots, and stripped off the peel. Ground up the lot with dried chillies and dried prawns, and made Spicy Dried Prawns – Hae Bee Hiam in local parlance – the first time in many years. Mum used to make it quite often back when she rendered lard every fortnight or so. The crispy lardons from cooking pork fat were finely chopped, then fried with lots of finely pounded dried chillies, shallots, garlic and dried shrimps. That was really old world food at its best, I tell you. We had another way for eating freshly fried lardons, by the way. Sprinkled with a bit of sugar and dipped in light soya sauce. I kid you not.

It seemed like a lot of work when I made Hae Bee Hiam yesterday, despite using a mini chopper instead of a mortar and pestle. So I really savoured my homemade Spicy Dried Prawns even though it didn't have any lardons. And it was a bit too finely chopped and lacked a bit of texture. Next time, I will leave some small dried prawns whole. Might even render some pork fat for a just-like-Mum-made-it version!

I gave some Spicy Dried Prawns to my brother, the one who drives from Tampines to Jurong to get his Hae Bee Hiam fix at I-don't- know-which hawker centre. He was over the moon, to put it mildly. And offered to exchange more Hae Bee Hiam with his sprouting garlic and shallots. Gosh, what's with all these people growing plants in the fridge? Maybe I should give them a few plant pots?

Check these out:
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Prawns with
Salted Egg Yolks
Prawns with
Red Fermented
Beancurd
Prawn Tom
Yum Soup
Kung Pao Prawns

Prawns with Red Fermented Beancurd

Friday, 30 October 2009

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Most people use the words prawn and shrimp interchangeably, or think shrimps are small prawns and prawns are big shrimps. To add to the confusion, some countries use one or the other terminology almost exclusively. In the UK, Australia and Singapore, for instance, prawn is far more common but Americans prefer shrimp.

Prawns with Salted Egg Yolks

Friday, 25 September 2009

PhotobucketSome dishes are so easy, it doesn't make sense to order them when eating out. Might as well save the money for something that's really complicated or has some secret recipe which can't be replicated at home, right?

Prawns with salted egg yolks is one such easy peasy dish. It doesn't take a genius to guess what the ingredients are. Nor does it require a great chef or domestic god(dess) to pull the ingredients together into a great tasting dish. Any home cook with minimal kitchen skills can do the job adequately.