Deep-fried Coconut Prawns

Rick Stein's recipe for Deep-fried Coconut Prawns from his BBC series, The Road to Mexico, are an easy party food idea or a brilliant Mexican starter.

Introduction

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.

Serves 4-6 as a starter

Ingredients

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:
125g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 medium egg
150ml ice-cold water
For the coating:
50g plain flour
60g panko breadcrumbs
60g unsweetened desiccated coconut
For the papaya dipping sauce:
1 large papaya
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
½ tsp salt

Instructions

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.

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