These salted egg prawns are quick, easy and extremely satisfying with just some plain rice and a simple cucumber salad.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
What are Salted Eggs?
Salted eggs, or salted egg yolks, are eggs that have been cured either in brine, in salt or in soy sauce. Chinese salted eggs tend to be cured in brine (salt solution). And if you remember, we did that recently here on Singaporean and Malaysian Recipes.
Over on LinsFood, you’ll find the other 2 methods, dry cured egg yolks and and egg yolks in soy sauce, which is the Japanese version known as shoyuzuke ran’ō (pickled egg yolk).
Salted egg yolks have a briny flavour to them and are incredibly rich and creamy on their own. They can be enjoyed in so many different ways, like in today’s Salted Egg Prawns. You can read more about them on the link above.
Salted Egg Prawns (Shrimp)
Outside of the more traditional use of cured egg yolks, like in mooncakes and steamed buns, today’s recipe is one of the most popular ways of enjoying salted eggs. It is a favourite dish on many a Chinese restaurant’s menu around the world, certainly in Singapore.
I am a huge fan. The naturally sweet prawns are beautifully complimented by the salty egg yolks and aromatics we use in the recipe.
How to Serve it?
These salted egg prawns are fairly salty if eaten on their own. This is especially because I use a little of the salted egg white to coat the prawns with before cooking. I mean we don’t want to waste those whites, do we?
So, to me, they are perfect with just some rice, and a simple vegetable dish. If I’m making it just for myself, that vegetable dish is quite often a simple cucumber salad like this kerabu timun. If I have the energy, and am able to get some kangkung, then kangkung belacan, with it’s earthy, spicy nature, goes splendidly too.
I think these salted egg prawns are rather wasted when eaten with noodles as you’re not able to enjoy its salty but subtle nature.
Salted Egg Prawns Recipe
As long as you’ve made or bought your salted eggs, the recipe itself is pretty quick and easy. I skip the usual steaming of the eggs step that everyone else does, because it’s rather pointless, as we’ll be cooking the salted egg yolks anyway.
If you don’t fancy making your own salted eggs, you’ll find them in the fridge of Chinese or other East Asian store.
This is what we’ll be doing:
- Separate the salted egg white and yolk.
- Clean the prawns and coat them in a little salted egg white and white pepper. Freeze the rest of the salted egg white to use later (see suggestions on the salted egg article).
- Chop up the garlic, chillies and spring onions.
- Mash the egg yolks with 2 forks, adding a little water as you go along. This will be a sticky job, don’t worry about lumps. You need two forks to scrape off each other. You could also do this in a small food chopper.
- Sear the prawns on high heat very quickly (with a little oil).
- Fry the aromatics, add the yolks and create a sauce.
- Toss in the prawns, heat through and finish your salted egg prawns with some white pepper.
What do you think? Doable, right?
Besides the salted eggs, we only need a few basic ingredients. This is all that we want:
- salted eggs
- prawns (shrimps)
- spring onions (scallions)
- red chillies
- vegetable oil (sesame oil will be delicious here)
- ground white pepper (black will work too)
Shell On or Shell Off?
This is probably the biggest question I got asked in class last week in my 2-week long series on Chinese recipes in Singapore. The salted egg prawns class nearly got derailed because of the different opinions!
This decision, I shall leave up to you. Keeping the shell on has its purpose, it:
- keeps the prawn meat moist
- takes on a lovely flavour from the sauce and is totally yummy to chew on
- makes for a prettier presentation
However, peeling the prawns at the dinner table isn’t to everyone’s liking. And it does prevent the prawn meat from taking on the full flavour of the salted prawn sauce.
My compromise is always to shell the prawns but to leave its tail intact. That way, you allow the prawn meat to absorb the flavours you’re cooking with, while the tail lends elegance to your dish.
And that’s it. Let’s get in the kitchen.
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More Chinese Recipes on SMR
Salted Egg Prawns
- 1 knife
- 2 bowls
- 1 wok or frying pan
- 1 ladle
- 1 plate for cooked prawns
- 1 small serving dish
- 2 salted eggs
- 200 g fresh raw prawns 300g/10.5oz with shell on (frozen raw prawns will work too)
- ground white pepper
- 125 ml water
- 1 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil sesame oil will be lovely here too
- 2 spring onions (scallions)
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1-2 red chilli use a mild one for a mild dish
Prep the Prawns
- If using shell on prawns: twist the head off carefully, removing all the shell but the tail end. The intestinal vein that runs along the back of the prawn should be visible and just sticking out. Give it a firm but gentle pull.If it's stuck, use a small knife to cut a shallow groove along the back and take the vein out and discard.Place the prawns in a bowl.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl. Using your fingers, gently lift the egg yolk, getting rid of as much egg white off it, as you can. Place the egg yolk into another small bowl.Salted egg yolks are pretty sturdy, so don't worry about breaking them, but don't be too rough in removing any attached white.
- Pour a little of the egg white (about half an egg) onto the prawns. Freeze the rest for later use. Add a few dashes of the pepper and coat the prawns all over with the salted egg white and pepper. Set aside while you get everything else ready.
Other Prep Work
- Chop up all the aromatics as you see in the image: the spring onions, garlic and chillies. The chilli and garlic want to be chopped up fairly finely.Separate the green from the white for the spring onions, we'll be using the green to garnish after cooking. Roughly chop up the whites a little but leave the green in rings.
- Add a little of the water (about 3 tablespoons) to the egg yolks and mash them using 2 forks. It'll be a sticky, gooey mess and you'll have lumps. Don't worry about it, the lumps will add to the final enjoyment of the dish.
Let's get Cooking
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan on high heat and flash fry the prawns for about 2 minutes, flipping frequently. We want to cook the prawns until they are almost done and get some charred bits, that's why the high heat.Don't overcook the prawns here as they'll still be cooked for a minute or two later. Leaving them a touch raw is fine.Tip out onto a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium. You should still have some oil in the wok, if not, add half a tablespoon more. Tip in the chopped spring onion whites, the chillies and garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
- Tip in the salted egg yolk and water mash, along with the rest of the water. Very quickly, stir this around to create a thick sauce. Cook for 1 minute. If it's getting to dry, add a little more water, about 60ml (¼ cup).
- Add the prawns back into the wok, along with any juices on the plate and stir to mix and coat the prawns with the salted egg sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the prawns are heated through and fully cooked.
- Take it off the heat and transfer the salted egg prawns onto a serving plate and garnish with a little white pepper and the green spring onions. Serve immediately.