Fried Prawns in Butter Sauce

Monday, May 07, 2012

Butter Prawns. This is our regular order each time we visit our favourite family restaurant. This has been so for many years now. This version has the sauces sticking creamily to the prawns and is different from other eateries. 

My Mum had tried to 'crack' the recipe but she never quite succeeded. Of late, I have been experimenting with it. There is no written recipe to guide me but brief conversations with the cook and experiences from cooking other dishes helped me to figure out the method. In fact the main technique which makes the difference is that the oil needs to be hot enough. 

I am still perfecting it. But I am happy with the version I made tonight. Sharing this recipe will be helpful for some of you who may be interested in cooking this at home or just wanting to understand this technique of cooking prawns. The wasabi, mango and mayo sauce prawn uses a similar method. The best thing about home cooking is the cost you save as large prawn dishes are expensive in restaurants.

Tiger Prawns
The prawns coated with flour and about to be fried
I came across some large sea tiger prawns going for $21/kg at the wet market recently and bought a kilo as I thought the price was very reasonable. I was wondering how I should cook it and this dish came to mind.

Fry the prawns in very hot oil

Preparing the Prawns
1 kilo large prawns

1 teaspoon soda bicarbonate
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 egg
1t salt
1t sugar

Use large prawns. Tiger or the white Angka (which is even sweeter) will work. Large prawns are easy to peel. Shell the prawns completely. Tug the end piece and the tail should come out nicely. Keep the heads and shells for stock-making. Slit the flesh at the back of the peeled prawns, deeply to more than the half-way point to butterfly them. This way, you expose more of the meat for sauce coating and the prawn will open up nicely when fried. If you see any veins, just remove.

Marinate the prawns and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Deep-frying the Prawns

corn flour
rice flour
tapioca flour
custard powder
soda bicarbonate

Crack an egg and dip the prawns in it. Then coat it with flour with this ratio: 2 parts Rice flour, 2 parts Tapioca Flour, 1 part custard powder and 0.5 baking soda. Tapioca flour makes for a crispier batter but you moderate that with some rice flour. Baking soda helps it to stay crisp longer. Don't use water for the batter and coat it only once as you want a very thin batter.

Meanwhile, heat up the oil in the pot or wok for deep frying. The oil should be shimmering and remember to use oil with a high smoking point like peanut or vegetable oil. The oil must be hot enough so that the flour will stick to the prawns. If there is a thin layer of batter on your prawns, the sauce will coat it nicely.

Remember to shake off excess flour and fry the prawns in small batches to avoid lowering the temp in the oil. Once the prawns hit the oil, it should curl up nicely, especially since you have made a deep slit. With frying wooden chopsticks, move the prawns around to prevent overburning some parts. Fry the prawns for a minute and remove. Don't over fry them. It should look beautifully golden without any blackened spots.

Preparing the Sauce

150 gm butter
300 ml carnation milk
1 teaspoon of corn flour
small chilies (chili padi)
a bunch curry leaves
salt & sugar
white pepper
Deseed and dice the chilli padi. Mix one teaspoon of corn flours in some water. Mise in place the ingredients as making the sauce will be quick. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute some curry leaves and the diced chili in it. Use very low flame and be gentle with the sauce. Add the rest of the butter and evaporated milk. The evaporated milk should be roughly twice the amount of butter.  Stir to mix. and a bit of corn flour water to thicken the sauce. Add some dashes of white pepper, salt and sugar to taste. Switch off fire. Stir in the fried prawns to coat, dish up and serve immediately. Bed it on lettuce. 

It is best eaten with rice. Give it a try. Using the same method, you can experiment with different types of flours and sauces for different textures and flavours. Try it with mango sauce, wasabi sauce, salted egg yolk, mayo etc.  
This is how the prawns look after they are fried. The prawns before it is coated with sauce.
Note how thin the crust or batter is.

Served at the Dinner table. For this batch, I used Angka Prawns.

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  1. wow thanks for sharing this. I love butter prawns!

  2. wow. that's my favourite. definitely will try. thanks so much for the recipe and detailed tips!

  3. Hi there, can let me know the specific amount of butter and milk used? Thanks!! I tasted this during one of my dnd and couldnt find the recipe

  4. About 100 gm of butter and half a can of evaporated milk (maybe about 100-150 ml) will work.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, about to try the recipe, want to ask for your clarification on this part

    "corn flour
    rice flour
    tapioca flour
    custard powder
    soda bicarbonate

    Crack an egg and dip the prawns in it. Then coat it with flour with this ratio: 2 parts Rice flour, 2 parts Tapioca Flour, 1 part custard powder and 0.5 baking soda."

    What is the ratio of corn flour to use? I assume 0.5 baking soda = 0.5 teaspoon baking soda right? Thanks!