Casting our minds back a bit here, this year for Chinese New Year we threw together something of a Chinese-Japanese fusion feast with each of us making a dish or two. There was special fried rice, chilli prawns, crispy aromatic duck (Gressinghams, not homemade - I did it once, and life is too short!) and chicken yakitori. There was also one dish I made for the first time (and I've had time to refine since) which quite a few of you took an interest in when I mentioned that I'd made them: better than takeaway style sesame prawn toasts.
We make a lot of Chinese food at home, but not much of it appears here on the blog. If I am to be absolutely honest, this is because Chinese food is a total nightmare to photograph. Have you ever tried making a stir-fry photogenic, and still edible at the end? However, I'm going to take this as an excuse to make more starter type Asian dishes, that are both easier to shoot, and are the sorts of things most of us don't think to make at home.
While we do sometimes branch out into different chefs and styles, in our house one cookery writer rules supreme when it comes to all things wok: Ching-He Huang. While her most recent book focusing on lighter, healthier eats has yet to grace the family cookery book shelf in the kitchen, but we have family favourites from all of her other titles: China Modern, Chinese Food Made Easy, Ching's Chinese Food in Minutes and Ching's Fast Food. I learned how to make my own sesame prawn toasts from Ching's Fast Food; this is her recipe, adapted slightly for what I have found is easiest (and with black sesame seeds added in for aesthetics!)
Now, I've made these two different ways with equally delicious results; it is all up to personal preference. It is Ching's way to encase a whole prawn in egg dipped and sesame coated bread, but I've also tried encasing chopped up prawn. The pro to using the whole prawn is you get a whole delicious juicy mouthful, but you lose some of the flavourings you've added to the egg mixture if you don't use it all. You don't get this with the chopping method, but then again you don't get that whole prawn. It's up to you. This recipe makes 8 prawn toasts, enough to serve 4 as part of a spread.
- 2 tsp Grated Root Ginger
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tbsp Cornflour
- 2 Dashes of Toasted Sesame Oil
- 2 Dashes of Light Soy Sauce
- Freshly Ground Sea Salt
- Ground White Pepper
- 2 Spring Onions
- 100g (3.5 oz) Sesame Seeds
- Black Sesame Seeds (optional)
- 4 Slices White or Brown Bread (the plastic kind)
- 8 Large Raw Prawns, peeled
- Sunflower or Groundnut Oil
If you're going to a whole prawn situation, beat together the ginger, eggs, cornflour, sesame oil, soy sauce a good seasoning of sea salt and a generous pinch of white pepper. Thinly slice the spring onions and add them to the mixture. If you want to make the chopped filling, just combine the egg, cornflour, sesame oil, soy sauce and other seasonings; chop the spring onions and set them aside with the ginger.
Slice the crusts off of the bread and half the slices lengthways. Tip the sesame seeds onto a shallow dish, adding a few black seeds to create a mixture if you wish. You're now good to go to make whole prawn sesame toasts. If you're making the other filling, roughly chop the prawns and combine with the onions, ginger, and a splash of the egg mixture to make a slightly sticky filling.
Dip a piece of bread completely in the egg mixture, shaking off any excess. Either encase a whole prawn or an 8th of the chopped prawn mixture in the middle of the piece of bread by folding it in half in the middle, and squeezing the edges shut. Roll the toast so it is completely coated in sesame seeds, and set aside while you repeat with the rest of the pieces of bread.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the toasts halfway in oil in a wok over a medium high heat (a very high heat will make the oil too hot and make it really easy to burn your toasts) until it is shimmering. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, fry the toasts in two batches until just golden on each side. Leave them to rest on a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up excess fat, and to cool down for about 5 minutes before serving with a sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
What are your favourite Chinese (or other traditional Asian) dishes to make at home? As I said, we're really really big on stir-frys, but like experimenting with side and different rice dishes, too.