Learn how to make restaurant-quality Cereal Prawns at home. Deep-fried, crispy prawns are coated in buttery toasted cereals, aromatic curry leaves, and a little bit of kick from chilies. This easy recipe will surely impress your family!
A classic in Singaporean cuisine, Cereal Prawns sometimes also called Cereal Butter Prawns or 麦片虾 (màipiàn xiā) in Chinese, are a staple at hawker centers and restaurants throughout Singapore and Malaysia. The dish is so good and popular that it has become a constant favorite menu in many Chinese restaurants in Indonesia.
This seafood dish is quite special because it combines prawns with an unconventional ingredient, Nestum cereal. The prawns are deep-fried until crispy. Curry leaves and chilies are stir-fried in a generous amount of butter and tossed with the cereal. The prawns are then added and coated with this rich, sweet, savory, and crispy buttered cereal. The delightful crunch and flavors are sinfully satisfying and addicting.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Easy to make. This dish looks quite fancy, but it is actually easy to make as long as you have the ingredients at home.
- Explosion of flavors. The prawns are sweet, juicy, and tender. The cereal is sweet, salty, rich, buttery, and delicious! The aromatic curry leaves infuse the dish, while the chilies provide a gentle kick of spice. The combinations are highly addicting!
- Crispy crunchy texture. The prawns are first deep-fried with a thin layer of coating until crispy. The cereal and curry leaves are also toasted with butter until crispy.
Ingredients You Need
This recipe requires very few ingredients, but you can’t skip any, or else it just tastes different!
- Prawns. You want large-size prawns. The larger they are the better and quicker time to prep them.
- Nestum cereal. It is a multigrain instant cereal, manufactured by Nestle. The one we are using for the recipe is the Nestum Cereal Original. It is slightly sweet and has a thinner and flakier texture compared to the usual porridge oats. Do not substitute it with the normal porridge oats because they will get soggy. Try to find this specific brand because the choice of cereal largely impacts the taste of this dish. If you really cannot find this brand, then any instant cereal that is accessible to you should work. The cereal should be crispy and crunchy right out of the pack already.
- Egg. In this recipe, the egg white is mixed with prawns before they are coated with cornstarch and deep fried. Egg white contains less fat than yolk, making the batter crisp instead of potentially bendy or soft. They also hold the batter together, especially when paired with cornstarch. Meanwhile, the egg yolk is fried with butter to make the crispy egg floss. You can also skip it if preferred.
- Cornstarch. For dredging and deep frying, because it yields a crispy crust and texture.
- Butter. To add richness. You can use both the unsalted and salted butter. If using salted butter, you will need to adjust the salt.
- Garlic. For aromatic flavor and aroma.
- Bird’s eye chilis. To add a little kick to the dish. The spiciness is very subtle.
- Curry leaves. This is not something you find easily in your regular grocery store. you may find curry leaves in Indian grocery stores and some Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find curry leaves in nearby stores, you can buy fresh curry leaves as well as dried curry leaves online on Amazon.
- Milk powder. To add richness and milky flavor.
- Seasonings. Salt, sugar, ground white pepper, and chicken stock powder.
How To Prepare Prawns
In restaurants, they tend to leave the prawns whole with the shell on. You can leave the shells on as well, but I always peel off the shells when I make this at home!
- If you like to eat the head, cut off the sharp spine above the prawn head using kitchen scissors. If you don’t want prawn heads, just pull away the head part and discard them.
- Cut off the legs using kitchen scissors.
- Work your thumb between the shell and the body. Once the tip of your thumb is under the shell, lift it to pull the shell away from the body. Remove the prawn shells, leaving the tail part intact.
- With the tip of a sharp knife, gently slide the blade, tracing the whole outer curve of the prawns through the back.
- Remove the vein from the back of the prawns.
- Rinse the prawns with clean water.
How to Make Cereal Prawns
- Mix clean prawns with an egg white and salt gently.
- Coat the prawns with cornstarch.
- Deep fry the prawns until light golden brown and crispy.
- Remove the frying oil from the pan. Add butter and slowly drizzle in egg yolk to make egg floss. Add garlic, bird’s eye chilis, and curry leaves and stir fry until the curry leaves turn crispy.
- Add Nestum cereal, milk powder, salt, sugar, ground white pepper, and chicken stock powder. Mix and toast until light golden brown.
- Add the fried prawns and mix until the prawns are coated with the toasted cereal. Serve immediately.
How To Serve
Since the taste of Cereal Prawns is quite strong, this dish should be served with plain white steaming rice. Complete with some side dishes for a fulfilling meal.
You can eat the prawn heads and tails or discard them if you don’t like them. Make sure to scoop lots of the toasted cereal because it is the best part of this dish. Don’t leave out the crispy curry leaves because they taste delicious together with the cereal.