Happy Monday, and happy lunar new year! Best wishes for a joyful, healthy and prosperous Year of the Dragon.
To be honest, we weren’t really planning on doing anything special to mark the occasion, and I definitely hadn’t baked or cooked anything remotely new year-y in preparation. But when the MC’s insisted we have a “special” dinner so they could dress up in their new outfits, how could I say no? (It is customary during the lunar new year to give the kids lucky red packets filled with money, and something new to wear).
Whilst trying to think of a suitably “special” dish, I spotted the half loaf of white bread left over from MC Senior’s birthday celebrations on the weekend. We don’t actually eat white bread and I only ever buy it for making kids party food, so I needed to find a way to use the loaf up.
Then I remembered these crispy prawn balls. The balls have a filling of minced prawns covered with a layer of cubed white bread.
Every lunar new year, I really looked forward to tucking into these crunchy golden orbs at my best friend Mei’s house. It was a long awaited treat as I never came across the dish anywhere else. Luckily I kept getting invited back - they mustn’t have noticed how many of these things I was quietly shovelling into my face!
Certain food often triggers my memories, reminding me of someone special or a certain time in my life. These prawn balls always remind me of Mei, and how we met as 6 year olds in the back of the mini school bus. We took to each other instantly, probably due to the fact that we were both precocious chatterboxes, and we spent most of our childhood and adolescence in each other’s pockets.
Eventually, we went our separate ways to pursue tertiary education and jobs and all that stuff one is supposed to do when trying to pass as an adult, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology (hello Facebook!), Mei has once again entered my orbit :).
I had never thought of getting the recipe, but I had a vague idea of how to go about it, and I hope I’ve done these justice. Mr. Kitchen Hand was suitably impressed by the results, and even the usually prawn-hating MC Senior ate a couple. MC Junior did exactly what I expected her to do - nibbled the crunchy bread off the outside and then announced she didn’t really like prawns after all.
Mei, if you’re reading this - here’s to old times :)
Have a great start to the week and enjoy the festivities. Oh, and don't forget the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday event that I host with 3 Hungry Tummies . There are still 2 weeks to make the round-up (I'll be posting it on the first Monday in February) . So get
cooking and send your entries in to its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com. Pretty please? Honestly, the cupboard is really, really bare this month!
Crunchy prawn balls
(This isn’t a hard and fast recipe, feel free to scale up or down as needed).
For the coating:
Stale white sandwich bread - crusts removed, cut into very small cubes. I ended up using about 8 slices, but you might need more or less depending on how much filling you have.
1 egg beaten
Some plain flour to dust
For the filling:
Fresh/ Green prawns - peeled, deveined and minced finely. I had about 440g of prawns with the shells on, forgot to weigh them after I’d peeled them.
2 stalks spring onions / shallots (the long green and white ones with the narrow bases) - finely chopped
dash of soy sauce to taste
dash of sesame oil
pepper (usually in Chinese cooking, white pepper is used, but I only had black)
optional - cornstarch to bind. I found that my minced prawns were a little “loose” although I had no problems forming them into shape. However, you could add a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the mixture and help bind it together. Don’t use too much though or it will end up a bit gluey.
Vegetable oil for frying.
Sweet chilli sauce for serving.
Mix the minced prawns with the onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper. Use two teaspoons to form into balls and place on a plate. Chill for a little while, 10 - 20 minutes.
In 3 separate bowls, arrange a little plain flour, the beaten egg and the cubed bread. Heat some vegetable oil in a small but deep frying pan. The aim is to deep fry the balls, but I usually only have the oil coming up to halfway of the thing I’m frying, and just tilt the pan to coat the item.
Dip the prawn balls in a little flour, dust off the excess, then dip quickly into the egg and finally into the cubed bread, trying to cover all the prawn surface with bread cubes. When the oil is hot enough, fry a few balls at a time until golden brown. Make sure you keep adjusting the temperature of the oil. The balls mustn’t cook too quickly otherwise the outside will be scorched and the insides undercooked. Conversely, if the oil isn’t hot enough, the bread will absorb way too much oil. Place the balls on a tray in a low oven to keep warm while you finish cooking the whole lot.
Drain the balls on absorbent kitchen paper, and serve warm with chilli sauce.