Posts in Food

Butter Prawn

This year has proved to be a year of friendship and food. I can’t even keep track of how many food gatherings we’ve had in the past 6 months alone. Not that I am complaining. In fact I am ecstatic. It’s been great being able to chill and hang out and have good food with some like-minded Malaysians.

Speaking of Malaysians, this past month my mom and I decided to invite a few friends over to share more Malaysian food. We had recently found some Hard Tail Scad fish at this new Asian grocery store in Elgin, and the fact I haven’t had that particular fish in over 10 years…it seemed appropriate to share it with my fellow Malaysians. For someone who loves seafood as much as I do…living in the midwest is hard.

That being said though, this post isn’t about that fish dish but about the dish my mom asked me to make. Butter Prawns. Butter Prawns is probably one of my favorites dishes growing up in Malaysia. We would often order it when we visited the Chinese Muslim Seafood Restaurants there. It is a quintessential Malaysian dish where Malay, Indian, and Chinese ingredients ignite to bring out the best flavors of the crustacean. Plump prawns are fried till a gilded hue is achieved then copiously coated with a soul-warming concoction of melted butter, garlic, curry leaves, and chilies.

Although what makes this dish absolutely amazing is not the prawns, but the yummy egg floss that accompanies the protein. The egg floss is buttery, crispy, spicy and a touch salty, and those flavor combination is what makes your senses come alive. I don’t make butter prawns often, but it’s always a treat when I do. Making it is as much fun as eating it, and since a couple of people asked for the recipe, I thought I’d share it here.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb medium sized prawns with shell on
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot – sliced thinly
  • 4-5 bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • Evaporated milk
  • Canola oil for frying

Preparation

  1. Clean and pat dry the prawns in paper towel. Season them with a bit of salt and pepper.
  2. To fry the prawns: Heat up the wok with a bit of vegetable oil. Pan fried the prawns until it turns pink. Remove and drain the oil on paper towel.
  3. To cook egg floss: Heat up wok. Melt 3 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Carefully drizzle in the beaten egg yolks into the hot oil in a thin stream. When the eggs hit the oil stir it around so they don’t clump up together. Continue to stir until the egg floss is golden brown. Remove the floss and drain them on paper towel
  4. Remove any access oil from the wok and wipe it clean. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Stir fry finely chopped garlic, shallots, bird’s eyes chilies and curry leaves, until fragrant. Add in evaporated milk and continue to stir until the milk bubble and reduce.
  5. Add in the prawns and give it a good stir to coat the sauce. Pour in soy sauce. Season with salt ,sugar and white pepper. Cook for another minute.
  6. Top with with egg floss, sprinkle in sugar, salt and pepper. Toss it really well. Dish out and serve immediately.

Bouillabaisse

It’s that time of year again. When the days get shorter and it gets so cold out that all you really want to do is stay cuddled up under the covers and not go anywhere.

It’s also the time of year where I tend to cook more. Mostly soup/stew dishes. So keeping with that tradition. I made my 1st fall season soup a couple of weeks ago. The French Provençal seafood stew; Bouillabaisse.

It’s fairly certain that whoever cooked the first bouillabaisse did so in a big pot over a hot fire—hence its name, which derives from the words bouillir, to boil, and abaisser, to lower. All authentic bouillabaisse recipes call for the ingredients to be brought to a quick and rapid boil (a “true tempest of fire”, as one recipe puts it). This causes the oil, stock, and fish gelatin in the pot to emulsify into a rich, satisfying broth.

This classic Provençal seafood starts with good olive oil, onions, garlic and is loaded with clams, lobster, mussels and fish in a broth delicately flavored with fennel, tomatoes, saffron, and a bouquet garni. Other potential ingredients include leeks, potatoes, orange peel, etc.  “There are no real rules to this dish except to use what’s fresh,”

In the spirit of the humble Mediterranean fisherman, I recommend using whatever seafood is available where you live. Typically bouillabaisse has two or three kinds of fish, and various shellfish (clams, mussels, shrimp, crabs, languistines, etc.). I ended up using squid, bay mussels, little neck clams, lobster tail, shrimp, cod, and mahi mahi It’s what’s available here in the good old midwest, so that’s what ought to go into the bouillabaisse. You should use whatever you can find.

Ingredients

  • Good olive oil, as needed
  • 4 to 8 thick slices good bread
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium new potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron, optional
  • bay leaves
  • 3 cups lobster stock
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes, with their juice (canned are O.K.)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds chopped boneless fish and shellfish, preferably a variety
  • 8 littleneck clams
  • 8 mussels
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 15 squids
  • 1 pound cod fish, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound mahi-mahi, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 main lobster tail (remove shell and cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • Chopped fennel fronds, for garnish
  • Chopped basil or parsley, for garnish
  • Rouille, optional

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees; brush bread liberally with olive oil, and bake on a sheet, turning once, until golden and crisp. Set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil or enough olive oil to make a thick layer (don’t skimp) on the bottom of a Dutch oven, deep skillet or shallow pot. Cook onion, garlic, celery, carrot, potato, fennel, cayenne pepper and saffron until glossy (translucent), about 5 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes and bring to a moderate boil; add the bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables are tender, and the broth is thick and stewy rather than soupy, about 20 minutes. Season to taste; it should be so delicious that you don’t even care whether you add fish. Discard the bay leaves.
  3. Lower heat to a simmer, and, as you add fish, adjust heat so that the liquid continues to bubble gently. Add fish in order of how long they will take to cook. Cod, mahi-mahi and squid are fish that might require more than a few minutes, so add them first. About five minutes later add clams, lobster meat and mussels, holding back any fish that has been cooked or will cook in a flash. When mollusks open, add remaining fish and scallops.
  4. Taste and adjust season. Garnish and serve with croutons and rouille, if you’re using.

Tip

  • To make rouille, add 1/2 cup finely minced roasted, peeled and seeded red bell pepper, 2 cloves finely minced garlic and cayenne to taste to either homemade or store-bought mayonnaise.