Deep-fried Coconut Prawns
If you have been anywhere by the sea in the Yucatán peninsula you will have had these deep-fried king prawns with a coconut batter. Somewhat curiously to me, they often come with an apple sauce, but far less frequently they’re served with a papaya and habanero dipping sauce, which I like. The other problem is the batter is often too sweet, so this is my version with no sugar. The sauce is a little on the hot side, but so it should be, habaneros being far and away the chillies most often used in the Yucatán.
|24||raw king prawns, peeled but with tails on (about 600g frozen raw shell-on prawns)|
|600ml||corn oil, for frying|
|salt and black pepper|
|For the batter:|
|1½ tsp||baking powder|
|For the coating:|
|60g||unsweetened desiccated coconut|
|For the papaya dipping sauce:|
|½-1||habanero chilli, stem removed, deseeded and roughly chopped|
|1||banana shallot, roughly chopped|
|1||clove garlic, peeled and halved|
|3 tbsp||cider vinegar|
|2||thin slices root ginger|
|juice of 1 lime|
|juice of 1 orange|
|1 tbsp||soft brown sugar|
|1||large pinch ground allspice|
To make the dipping sauce, peel the papaya, remove the seeds and chop it roughly. Put it in a blender with the other ingredients and process until smooth. Pour the sauce into a pan and bring it to the boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer and cook gently for about 5 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick, add a few tablespoons of just-boiled water.
For the batter, sift the plain flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in centre and break in the egg, then bring in the flour from the sides. Whisk in the cold water to make a smooth batter. Put the coating flour in a shallow bowl.
Put the batter in a second bowl and the breadcrumbs mixed with coconut in a third.
Season the prawns with salt and pepper, then coat a prawn in flour, shaking off any excess and holding it by the tail, dip it into the batter. Lift it out and let any excess batter drip back into the bowl. Roll the prawn in the crumbs and coconut mix, pressing it down so the mixture sticks. Put the prawn on a plate lined with greaseproof paper and repeat until all are coated. Leave some space between each one.
Add the oil to a large pan and heat to 180°C. Deep-fry the prawns – a few at a time – for 1 or 2 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain them on kitchen paper. Serve at once with the papaya dipping sauce.