MALAYSIAN BUTTER PRAWNS
One of the best ways to experience another culture is through the food they eat.Walking to school one day to drop my kid, I met another Mom who was walking hers to school as well, while the kids skipped along the path, the moms got talking,eventually like they say “All roads lead to Rome” the little chat lead to food.My new friend was from Malaysia and spoke about her cuisine with such delight,I caught that twinkle in her eye( Oh, that familiar twinkle!!!) & knew what it meant….food revisited in memory,is as good as food savored! Little did we realize we were at the school already, after kissing our kids, the culinary journey continued on the way back home, that’s when I got this recipe of “Udang Goreng Mentega”( quite a mouthful) or Malaysian Butter prawns in plain English from her.
The cold weather has a way of giving you delusions about spicy food…needless to say, its already freezing here and its not even the end of Fall yet,so my mind was jogging its menu list first thing in the morning,I ached for something spicy to chase this bitter cold away.Lo! & behold this Malaysian sea food classic made a grand entry in my wok!
The geographic location of Malaysia attracted traders & laborers alike from Chinese & Indian descent, and its only understandable that the Malay cuisine is a melting pot of Indo- Chinese culture,though to this day it remains a great culinary mystery to unfold.”Hawker Food” or street food is so common in Malaysia said my friend,and to eat/”makan” several times a day is the norm, to lose yourself among bustling hawker stands, she said….Oh, how I loved the visuals it created for me, can completely feel at home in a place like that, so here I was recreating the magic in my kitchen.
Malaysian Butter prawns is one of their classic gastronomic delights,said my friend.The curry leaves give the dish their distinct flavor ( I had the powdered version of it, brought from home…to just open the jar & smell it any time I needed teleporting in memory) so I added a big spoon of that,then there is garlic to spice it up along with bird eyed chilies ( I substituted with chili powder instead), that’s for the Indian bit of the dish, then there is Soy sauce & Chinese Rice wine or Vinegar to make up for the Chinese influence in the dish, I added a good amount of finely sliced spring onions for personal touch & voila my kitchen smelt as good as one of those hawker stands.Enjoy it with flat breads, or stuffed amidst sandwiches, or as a side for any rice dish.
Butter- 3 tbsp
Prawns- 20-30 ( cleaned & deveined)
Garlic pods- 4-5
Curry leaves- 6-8 ( I used the powdered version of curry leaves)
Chili powder- 1 tbsp
Black pepper pwd- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp ( optional)
Soya sauce- 1 tbsp
Chinese rice wine/vinegar- 1 tbsp Spring onions- 2 bunches9 finely sliced)
Salt- to taste
Coconut shredded – 1/2 cup
1.Clean & devein prawns.( Prawn heads taste good says my friend, some how I could not digest the fact , so I stayed with the body minus the tail instead).Wipe it dry with a paper towel and set aside.
2.Heat the butter in the wok, when its warm, add the crushed garlic into the warm butter & sauté till the nice aroma arises.
3.Now to this add the prawns ( my friend advised to fry it with oil, before adding them to the butter, I skipped the step simply to prevent too much deep frying) and then fry it partially.Add the curry leaves ( or the powdered version) to the prawns & stir it till the raw smell disappears.
4.Now add the chili powder, pepper & turmeric powder to the prawns & mix it well.Add the sliced spring onions & mix well.
5.Then add the soya sauce to the above & keep stirring to coat all the prawns, then add the Chinese rice wine /vinegar , with salt to taste.
5.Cover with lid & simmer it & allow to cook for 10 minutes till the prawns is well cooked in its own steam.Remove from heat & serve hot.
Note: Over cooking the prawns make them rubbery, so its important to simmer the heat when they are partially cooked, so the right amount of steam & heat is enough to cook them completely.
6.Enjoy your spicy prawn while smiling at the frosted leaves outside the window….you can always find a way to keep yourself warm, you just need to be hungry enough wink emoticon