Two days prior to the recent ‘Atlanta blizzard’, I found myself with a predicament.
- I had a refrigerator full of food. But little of it was fit for consumption by either humans or many other carbon-based life forms.
- I had absolutely zero desire to submit myself to a grocery store full of Southerners stricken with pre-snow hysteria, forming lines longer than Crystal Gale’s hair.
So when Sunday came around and the snow started falling, me and the beau hit the near-deserted streets and headed to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market.
Thanks to the ‘blizzard’, the Farmers Market was more calm than usual, so I took my time sniffing, examining, and exploring all the fresh and exotic wares. Just before checking off the last item on my list, I caught sight of a great deal. Huge, whole, head-on shrimp (so huge I decided to promote them to prawn status) for 4.99/lb. I was a bit daunted by the look of the alien heads with long antennae, but not enough to pass up such a bargain. Plus, I thought it’d make for good presentation to cook a couple with the heads / antennae intact.
Here’s how I handled the little monsters.
I wanted to keep the flavors and the prep simple, yet complement the freshness of the prawns, so I went with a sort of Latin / Asian fusion approach.
1 lb of prawns, shelled and deveined (left the tails on all, and the heads on 2-3)
minced garlic – about 1.5 Tbsp
panko bread crumbs
chopped green onions
canola oil for frying
Looking out of the kitchen window and seeing the snow falling put me in a really chill state of mind. Contemplating the Asian flavors to come, I thought of how the color white is a symbol of death in Japanese culture, and lamented the fact that the snow – pretty as it was on the lawn – probably wouldn’t last to the next day. The following poetic phrase popped into my mind:
bits of kamikaze sky
are dying silent, beautiful deaths
on my front lawn
After steeling myself to handle the truly weird-looking crustaceans (I now understand why shrimp are called the ‘cockroaches of the sea’), I peeled and deveined all but three, leaving the tails on all of them.
In a medium-sized bowl, I squeezed the juice of 2 limes, added the minced garlic, then tossed the peeled prawns in the mixture. I let
the shrimp marinate for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I added panko crumbs to a large plastic bag, chopped about a half-cup of green onions, and prepped my wok with a few tablespoons of canola oil.
Once the shrimp had marinated, I tossed enough cornstarch into the bowl to make a sort of sludgy mess, so that the panko would have something to stick to. If I’d had an egg, I would have used that instead, but this actually turned out more to my liking.
I heated my wok to get the oil ready for frying, then added the prawns one at a time to the bag of panko and tossed around to get a good coating. Once the oil was hot enough (a drop of panko sizzled and floated to the surface immediately), I added the prawns in small batches, and cooked for a couple of minutes on each side until the panko turned golden brown, and the prawns curled into a slight ‘C’ shape. During the last batch, I tossed in the green onions and let them cook for a minute.
I drained the pranws on paper towels and transferred them to a serving plate, forming a mound with the antennaed prawns and green onions on top. To finish, I drizzled with a little chili oil.
These things were soooo delicious! Light, crispy, fresh with just a hint of citrus and a little bite from the chili oil.
Definitely worth braving the snow and the sea monsters.
This is a delicacy I seldom can enjoy in China.