Cereal Butter Prawns (I)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Melt some butter and, when it's bubbling nicely, grab a few sprigs of curry leaves and rip off the leaves (with style, of course). Toss 'em in the wok, together with a roughly chopped up cili padi. Stir vigorously, knocking the spatula against the wok now and then. (Not sure what the knocking is for but that's what chefs do. Maybe it's a man thing?)

Butter, curry leaves and cili padi are all ingredients with pretty strong flavours but they complement rather than overwhelm each other. Each stands its ground, yet works with the other two to create a killer combination loved by young and old alike.

The party of three is excellent as it is but why stop there? When the aroma of the curry leaves starts drifting round the kitchen, tip a good half cup of cereal into the sizzling butter (with a flourish please). A few more vigorous stirs and – voila! – there's a pile of golden sand in the wok. I know many people would happily eat this crunchy sandy mixture with a shovel! It's so good it makes even cardboard taste good. (Not that I've tried, of course. I'll stick to prawns fried in the shell, thank you very much.)

I'd always thought cereal prawns were made with oatmeal, so my first stab at the recipe was with some Quaker instant oats that had been sitting on the kitchen counter, unloved and untouched. When the oats were mixed with melted butter, all I got was a disgusting, soggy lump that tasted downright nasty. Into the bin it went, no hesitation at all, and the prawns were eaten sans cereal.

Note to self: (1) '麦片' means cereal flakes; that's why '麦片虾', in English, is cereal prawns; (2) oatmeal is commonly referred to as '麦片' (which isn't wrong since oat is a cereal) but, strictly speaking, it should be '燕麦片'; and (3) I need to improve my Chinese!

The second time round, after a bit of research, I bought a pack of Nestum All Family Cereal. This one, recommended by many cooks, worked like a charm. It was super fragrant and super crispy – a total success! There were smiling faces, finger licking, and nods of approval all round. Yay!

Did you know that Nestum cereal, made by Nestlé, is 67% wheat flour? The rest of the ingredients are rice flour, sugar, corn and various vitamins. So everyone who eats Nestum cereal, thinking it's good for his health because that's what the ads say, is actually eating enriched, baked flour. Except it's sold at almost four times the price of regular raw flour. Nestlé is really smart, eh? No wonder it's the biggest food company in the world.

Would you like some Flour Butter Prawns? Nah, I think I'd go along with Nestlé. Cereal Butter Prawns sounds so much better!

13 August 2012 Update

(Recipe for 2-4 persons)
Cereal mix
¾ cup Nestum cereal (original flavour)
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar
1½ tbsp milk powder

300 g medium size prawns (8 pieces)
trim, devein, wash, and dry thoroughly
1 tsp salt
½ egg, beaten
1½ tbsp plain flour

vegetable oil for deep-frying
30 g unsalted butter (2 tbsp)
1 bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced
6-10 sprigs curry leaves
rinse and dry with paper towels; discard stalks to yield about 1/8 cup

Thoroughly stir ingredients for cereal mix. Set aside.

Sprinkle prawns with salt. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with flour and mix till coated. Deep-fry in just smoking oil over maximum heat possible till just cooked. Drain.

Heat butter till bubbling and lightly brown. Add curry leaves and chilli. Fry over medium heat till fragrant.

Reduce heat to low. Add cereal mix. Stir till lightly golden. Curry leaves should crisp up as excess moisture is absorbed by cereal.

Add prawns and toss till well mixed, turning off heat as cereal turns fully golden brown. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Plate and serve.


ckl said...

So what if you can't get hold of "Nestum All Family Cereal"? What will be a good substitution?

KT said...

Hi ckl

If you can't get NAFC, you probably can't get NAFC 3-in-1 or Singlong's readymade mix for cereal prawns either? In which case, I'd suggest plain corn flakes (roughly chopped to 3-5 mm wide) although I haven't tried it myself. Maybe Rice Krispies (flat rather than round)? You want something small and thin, and it should be crisp before it's fried, turning more crisp after it is. Oatmeal should work too provided it's toasted and crisp, not raw like the one I used. But it would be thicker and harder than corn flakes and Rice Krispies.

Anonymous said...

The best Cereal Prawn vid I stumled upon ♡. I enjoyed every second of it. Thanks sooo much for sharing the vid! :-)

Clumsy said...

Hi,what if i don't have milk powder? What can i substitute it with?

kt said...

Maybe coffee creamer.

Jeannie Tay said...

Hi, I just want to let you know that I have tried this recipe and love the taste very much...thanks for showing us how:) Gong xi fa cai!

kt said...

Fa cai, fa cai, everybody fa cai! : - ) Thanks for your feedback, Jeannie.

grasshopper said...

what kind of powder milk do you use? what brand?

kt said...


1234 said...

What if i can't find carry leaves? Can it be optional not to put carry leaves? And also the nestum cereal can i use other brand?

kt said...

Dear 1234, I have no idea what "carry leaves" are but everything in life is optional. The only exception is death.

nazri said...

Crunchy.sweet.spicy. thanks Kitchen Tigress! *I use Anlene Milk Powder as a substitute for the milk powder! HAHAHA. oh well, It works! :)

Barney said...

Love your Youtube vid of the tiger prawns and the comments... killer vid with humor! 2 big thumbs up. Can't wait to look at all your videos! No curry leaves so going to try with thyme..

Syilla said...

he/she meant by 'curry' leaves

Chef Seo said...


I'm a Chef in Korea.

I could't forgot "Cereal Shrimp" so I want to make it , in my home.

but I don't buy "Nestum Original Cereal" in korea.

What can i substitute it with? Plese...ㅠㅠ


Simei Lin said...

Just discovered ur awesome cookblog, am so gonna try this dish next week. Our family always used those ready-mix cereal packet but it turns out soggy every single time! Makes me think eating the Zi cha stall a luxury just for those cereal prawn =p Thank you for sharing!

bbtoes said...

Hi there, I'm about to embark on this recipe and I'm wondering how different the recipe would be if I didn't add the milk powder (I don't have coffee creamer either). Would it affect the dish a lot? Thanks!

Neethiya Kumarentran said...

I tried this recipe. Skipped milk powder since I didn't have it. Came out really good. So crispy, succulent and sweet. Gonna make it again for lunch tomorrow. Best served hot!

Jess said...

hi, sorry i cant see the link.. But i want to know what kind of milk powder that u use it.. Tq

Geraldine Oh said...

Hello, can I check with you what milk powder you use?? Thanks in advance.

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