In Chinese restaurants, this dish is called salt baked prawns but strange enough, the prawns are not baked but fried. Restaurants deep fry everything these days since customers love fried food and frying is quick, convenient and energy-saving. I didn't say anything about health so we don't need to go there.
This is an easy (even guys can cook this; yes, sarcasm intended), quick and very tasty way to cook prawns which are not exactly fresh off the boat. Deep-frying, like the color black, hides a multitude of sins. The only thing I don't like about this dish is that it is oily but you can cut back on the oil a bit by not adding oil during the second frying. This is a dish to cook for a group of rowdy friends and not princesses who fuss over their manicured nails or can't peel the shells themselves. Again, excuse me now as I settle down to watch The Little Nyonya. This episode is going to be so good. I think this is where he marries the woman his grandma chose while the woman he loves is forced to marry a butcher. The Little Nyonya is almost like Cinderella except the bad aunts and cousins are a trillion times worse and the ending is no happily-ever-after fairy tale. Makes all of us more content with our lot.
Salt Fried Prawns
12 medium-sized prawns
1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onions
1 T chopped garlic
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped red chili pepper
1 t salt (medium coarse)
a pinch of msg or chicken powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups veg oil
3 T corn flour
1. Trim the sharp tips of the prawns. Cut the shell along the back, remove the dirt vein but do not peel the shell off. Use kitchen paper to dab-dry the prawns but don't dry it too much.
2. Put the corn flour into a bowl and dredge the prawns lightly to coat the shells.
3. Heat the oil up in a wok. When oil starts to smoke, pick up the prawns by their tails, shake off any extra flour and carefully slip them into the oil. Maintain the high heat so that the shell gets crispy but the flesh remains succulent. Fry them in small batches to keep the heat at high.
4. After about 1 minute, lift the cooked prawns from the oil using a slotted spoon and let the oil drain from the prawns on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
5. Pour all the oil from the wok except for 1 T, return the wok to the stove at medium heat and add the garlic, chicken powder, chili pepper, salt and pepper and stir well to mix. After a couple of seconds, add the prawns and spring onions. Toss well and serve immediately.