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Feast Like Never Before: Chinese New Year Prawn Recipes

Chinese New Year is a time of joy and prosperity, and one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar. It is a time for reunion dinners with family and friends, and a time to indulge in delicious traditional Chinese dishes. Prawns are a popular ingredient in many Chinese New Year recipes, and are believed to symbolize happiness and good fortune.

A table set with various ingredients like prawns, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. A wok sizzling with prawns being stir-fried, surrounded by festive decorations for Chinese New Year

When selecting the best prawns for your Chinese New Year dish, it is important to choose fresh, high-quality prawns that are firm and have a sweet aroma. Essential ingredients for flavour include garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and rice wine. Preparation techniques such as deveining and slicing the prawns all the way through, but leaving the tail at the end, can enhance the flavour and presentation of your dish.

Cooking methods for Chinese New Year prawn recipes can vary, but steaming and frying are popular choices. Steaming garlic prawns with glass noodles, for example, is a Chinese-style dish that is both healthy and delicious. Fried prawn crackers are also a colourful and signature snack for any Chinese New Year celebration. Seafood such as lobster, crab, and scallops can also be used in Chinese New Year recipes to add variety and flavour to your meal.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose fresh, high-quality prawns and essential ingredients for flavour such as garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, and rice wine.
  • Preparation techniques such as deveining and slicing the prawns all the way through, but leaving the tail at the end, can enhance the flavour and presentation of your dish.
  • Steaming and frying are popular cooking methods for Chinese New Year prawn recipes, and seafood such as lobster, crab, and scallops can also be used to add variety and flavour to your meal.

Selecting the Best Prawns

A chef carefully selects the best prawns from a pile, preparing for Chinese New Year prawn recipes

When it comes to cooking Chinese New Year prawn recipes, selecting the best prawns is crucial for achieving the perfect taste and texture. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best prawns for your recipe.

Freshness Indicators

Freshness is key when it comes to selecting prawns. Here are some indicators to look out for:

  • Smell: Fresh prawns should have a mild sea-like smell. If they have a strong fishy smell, they may not be fresh.
  • Appearance: Fresh prawns should have a translucent shell and a shiny, slightly iridescent appearance. The flesh should be firm and slightly elastic to the touch.
  • Eyes: The eyes of fresh prawns should be clear and not cloudy or opaque.

Types of Prawns

There are different types of prawns that can be used for Chinese New Year recipes. Here are some of the most popular types:

  • Tiger prawns: These prawns are known for their large size and distinctive stripes. They have a sweet, delicate flavour and are great for grilling or frying.
  • King prawns: These prawns are also large and have a slightly stronger flavour than tiger prawns. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of recipes, including stir-fries, curries, and soups.
  • Seafood: If you're looking to add more variety to your Chinese New Year prawn recipe, consider adding other types of seafood such as scallops or squid. Scallops have a sweet, delicate flavour and are great for grilling or pan-searing. Squid has a mild, slightly sweet flavour and can be grilled, fried, or used in stews and soups.

When selecting your prawns, be sure to choose fresh, high-quality prawns that are appropriate for your recipe. If you're unsure about which type of prawns to use, ask your fishmonger for advice. And don't forget to include other types of seafood in your recipe to add more variety and flavour.

Essential Ingredients for Flavour

A table filled with vibrant ingredients like ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and fresh prawns. Red lanterns hang in the background, adding a festive touch to the scene

When it comes to Chinese New Year prawn recipes, there are a few essential ingredients that you simply can't do without. These ingredients are what give the dishes their bold, authentic flavours that are perfect for celebrating the holiday.

Garlic and Ginger

Garlic and ginger are two of the most important ingredients in Chinese cooking, and they play a big role in many Chinese New Year prawn recipes. Garlic adds a pungent, slightly sweet flavour to dishes, while ginger adds a spicy, slightly sweet flavour. Together, they create a delicious, aromatic base for many dishes.

When cooking with garlic and ginger, it's important to chop them finely or grate them to release their full flavour. You can also use garlic and ginger paste for convenience.

Sauces and Seasonings

Sauces and seasonings are another essential part of Chinese New Year prawn recipes. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, and sugar are all commonly used in Chinese cooking and can be found in many Chinese New Year prawn recipes.

Soy sauce is a staple in Chinese cooking and adds a salty, umami flavour to dishes. Oyster sauce is a thick, dark sauce made from oysters and adds a rich, savoury flavour to dishes. Shaoxing rice wine is a type of Chinese rice wine that adds a sweet, nutty flavour to dishes. Sugar is used to balance out the salty and savoury flavours in dishes.

When cooking with sauces and seasonings, it's important to use them in moderation to avoid overpowering the other flavours in the dish.

If you're looking to add some seafood to your Chinese New Year prawn recipe, consider using fresh prawns, shrimp, or lobster. These seafood options are perfect for steaming or stir-frying and can be easily paired with garlic, ginger, and sauces for a delicious and authentic Chinese New Year dish.

Preparation Techniques

A wok sizzles with marinated prawns, ginger, and garlic. A chef adds soy sauce and sesame oil, creating a fragrant aroma. Green onions and chili peppers are sprinkled in, adding color and heat

Deveining Prawns

Before you start cooking with prawns, you need to devein them. Deveining is the process of removing the dark vein that runs along the back of the prawn. This vein is actually the prawn's digestive tract, and it can sometimes contain grit and sand. To devein prawns, use a sharp knife to make a shallow cut along the back of the prawn, and then use the tip of the knife to lift out the vein.

It's important to note that you don't have to remove the prawn's shell before deveining it. In fact, leaving the shell on can help protect the delicate flesh of the prawn during cooking. However, if you prefer to remove the shell, you can do so by gently pulling it off starting from the head.

Marinating for Taste

Marinating prawns is a great way to add flavour to your dish. To marinate prawns, simply mix together your desired seasonings in a bowl, and then add the prawns. Make sure that the prawns are fully coated in the marinade, and then cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When it comes to flavouring your prawns, there are many options to choose from. For a classic Chinese flavour, try using garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. You can also add a bit of heat to your dish by using chilli flakes or Sriracha sauce. And don't forget to garnish your dish with some fresh herbs, such as coriander or spring onions, to add a pop of colour and flavour.

Seafood is a great addition to any Chinese New Year prawn recipe. You can add scallops, mussels, or squid to your dish to create a seafood medley. Alternatively, you can use prawn heads and shells to make a flavourful broth for your dish. Just simmer the heads and shells in some water for about 20 minutes, and then strain the liquid to remove any solids.

Cooking Methods

A wok sizzles with prawns stir-frying in soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. A pot of boiling water blanches fresh noodles. Chopped scallions and cilantro wait on a cutting board

When it comes to cooking prawns for Chinese New Year, there are a variety of methods to choose from. Here are two popular cooking methods that you can try at home.

Stir-Frying in a Wok

Stir-frying is a popular cooking method in Chinese cuisine, and it's perfect for cooking prawns quickly over high heat. To stir-fry prawns, heat up a wok over high heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the prawns and stir-fry for a few minutes until they turn pink and are cooked through. You can also add some vegetables like peppers and onions to the wok to add some colour and flavour to your dish.

If you want to add some seafood to your stir-fry, you can add some squid or scallops to your dish. Squid and scallops cook quickly and are perfect for stir-frying.

Pan-Frying for Texture

Pan-frying is another cooking method that works well with prawns. To pan-fry prawns, heat up a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the prawns and cook them for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown and crispy.

If you want to add some texture to your dish, you can also coat the prawns in a mixture of cornflour and seasoning before pan-frying. This will give the prawns a crispy outer layer.

For seafood lovers, you can also use other types of seafood like crab or lobster for pan-frying. These types of seafood have a similar texture to prawns and will work well with this cooking method.

These two cooking methods are great for cooking prawns for Chinese New Year. Whether you prefer stir-frying or pan-frying, both methods will result in delicious and flavourful dishes that your family and friends will love.

Serving and Presentation

A platter of sizzling prawns adorned with vibrant red and gold garnishes, surrounded by auspicious symbols of prosperity and good fortune

When it comes to serving and presentation, garnishing with spring onions is a classic and popular choice for Chinese New Year prawn dishes. Not only does it add colour and freshness to the dish, but it also enhances the flavour of the prawns. Simply chop the spring onions into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the dish before serving.

In addition to garnishing with spring onions, consider serving your prawns with a dipping sauce. A soy sauce-based dipping sauce is a great option and can be easily made by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Alternatively, a sweet chilli dipping sauce can also be used to add a bit of heat to the dish.

To make your prawn dish even more festive, consider serving it on a whole fish platter. This not only looks impressive but also symbolises abundance and prosperity. You can also serve your prawns with a side of vegetables such as steamed bok choy or stir-fried broccoli.

Seafood is a great addition to any Chinese New Year feast, and prawns are no exception. For a twist on traditional prawn dishes, consider using other types of seafood such as scallops or lobster. These can be cooked in a similar way to prawns and will add a touch of luxury to your meal.

Remember, Chinese New Year is a time for laughter and happiness, so don't be afraid to get creative with your presentation and have fun with your dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

A table set with various ingredients and cooking utensils for making Chinese New Year prawn recipes

What's a simple yet delicious prawn recipe for celebrating Chinese New Year?

If you're looking for a simple yet delicious prawn recipe to celebrate Chinese New Year, you can't go wrong with steamed garlic prawns. This recipe involves deveining and slicing the prawns, then steaming them with a garlic mixture. You can serve the prawns on a bed of shredded sweet potato and garnish with green onions for an extra touch of flavour.

Which prawn dish is considered the best for a Chinese New Year feast?

When it comes to Chinese New Year feasts, Har Lok, also known as "Fried Prawn with Sweet Soy Sauce", is a popular choice. This dish is made by stir-frying prawns with a sweet and savoury sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. It's usually served with steamed rice and vegetables.

How can I make a classic Chinese stir-fry with prawns?

To make a classic Chinese stir-fry with prawns, start by seasoning the prawns with salt and letting them sit for a few minutes. Then, heat some oil in a wok and stir-fry garlic until fragrant. Add the prawns and stir-fry until they're cooked through. You can add vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and broccoli for extra flavour and nutrition.

Where can I find prawn recipes from Chinese cuisine that have been featured on the BBC?

The BBC has a great selection of Chinese prawn recipes on their website. You can find recipes for dishes like Kung Pao Prawns, Salt and Pepper Prawns, and Cantonese-style Prawns. These recipes are easy to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.

What's the secret to making a mouth-watering Har Lok prawn dish?

The secret to making a mouth-watering Har Lok prawn dish is to use fresh, high-quality prawns and to cook them just right. You also want to make sure you use the right balance of sweet and savoury flavours in the sauce. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and seasonings until you find the perfect combination.

How do you prepare prawns in a rich Chinese-style gravy?

To prepare prawns in a rich Chinese-style gravy, start by stir-frying garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add the prawns and stir-fry until they're cooked through. Then, add the gravy made from a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. Simmer the mixture until the sauce thickens and coats the prawns. Serve with steamed rice and vegetables for a hearty and satisfying meal. If you want to add more seafood, you can also use scallops or squid in this dish.