cooking / Eating In / Hong Kong / Lifestyle / Living in Hong Kong / Local Food / Recipes

Eating In: Chinese Style Prawns

I have had a few people ask me about the prawn dish I posted a while back, so I thought I would share the recipe courtesy of my amazing helper. It is a very quick meal to cook and serve once the prawns have been prepared.

Chinese Steamed Prawns - Life With Sprogs

While I miss being able to go down the road to my local Woolies or Coles one of the advantages of Hong Kong are the numerous wet markets and abundance of fresh live seafood to choose from. This dish is best made with live prawns purchased from the markets. If you are using frozen or pre-frozen prawns make sure they are uncooked.

If you are getting your prawns live from the markets in Hong Kong there are a couple of things to look out for.

1. Make sure you choose live prawns; some vendors will have dead prawns floating around with a token live prawn present to mislead you.

2. When you have chosen where you want to buy your prawns from, watch the vendor collect your prawns – some will ‘go to the back’ and get their older (ie dead) stock. Don’t be afraid to insist on where you want your prawns taken from.

3. When you get the prawns home, rinse them briefly and place them in a bowl of water (you can add a bit of sea salt if you like) for about 30 to 45 minutes. This allows them time whilst still alive to filter more of the grit in their system out (less nasty black intestine). After about 30 – 45 minutes drain the prawns and place them in the freezer. This kills them relatively quickly (nothing worse than prawns thrashing around in boiling water … I get a bit emotional about seeing animals cooked alive). Get them out about 20 minutes before you need them, or once they are dead move them to the fridge until you are ready for them.

Chinese Style Boiled Prawns

Serves: 4


1 kg (1 1/2 catty) fresh prawns (shell on)
1 litre of water
2 to 5 slices of ginger
2 stalks of spring onion (cleaned and chopped in half)
1 tablespoon of chinese wine

Into a large pot add the water, ginger and spring onion. Bring to the boil.

Once the water is at a good boil add the chinese wine. I’ve included a photo of the chinese wine we use in our preparation. If you have a preferred brand, feel free to use your own.

Add the prawns to the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. The prawns should go a lovely orange-pink colour.

Chinese style fresh prawns - Life With Sprogs

Remove the prawns from the water with a sieve and serve.

These prawns should be eaten while still hot. This makes it easier to remove the shells and the taste is cleaner.

You can serve them with a dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce and a few slices of chopped chilli (add to your heat tolerance). You can also serve this dish with or without rice. Some people like to serve this as an appetiser. Others, like ourselves, tend to include this as one of the main dishes in our dinner meal.

To eat, either use your hands, remove the head, peel and enjoy  (that’s the chinese way) or, using a knife and fork chop the head off and discard. Place the fork into the body of the prawn and slide your knife under the shell (between the shell and the flesh). While holding the prawn firm with the fork, gently shuck the shell off using the knife. You may need to repeat the process by moving your fork further down the prawn depending on your skill level. Discard the shell and enjoy the prawn.

I hope you enjoy!


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