KitchenTigress: Cereal Butter Prawns (II)

Cereal Butter Prawns (II)

Cereal butter prawns is a popular "zi char" dish in Singapore and Malaysia. Prawns are deep-fried, then tossed in a sandy cereal mix flavoured with butter, milk powder, curry leaves, and chillies. The flavours are strong and bold. There's a spicy kick. Both cereal and prawns are very crisp and aromatic.

Tips for making cereal butter prawns:

🦐 Don't use oat, ever. Raw oat is thick and chewy, right? Does it crisp up after it's fried in butter? No, it doesn't. It just turns into a soggy mess. When you see recipes that use oat, run!

🦐 What you should use is Nestum cereal, which is actually flakes of baked flour with a milky fragrance. Nestum comes out of the bag (or tin) crisp, and it can absorb some moisture without going soft. Hence, curry leaves fried with Nestum cereal are dry and crunchy. Likewise, deep-fried prawns that have a bit of moisture would crisp up nicely but don't dry out.

🦐 Be careful when you're frying the cereal. It burns easily, so use low heat. The wok should be warm, not hot.

🦐 Don't use small prawns because they overcook easily. Big ones require some skill to get them evenly done. Medium size is the easiest.

🦐 To deep-fry medium-sized prawns, use the maximum heat possible on your stove, in vegetable oil heated to just smoking. Fry just once, not twice.

🦐 Go easy on the bird's eye chilli. Don't use too much or it would overwhelm the other flavours in the dish.

🦐 Watch my awesome video.

How to make cereal butter prawns

Step-by-step guide

Prawns are deep-fried, then tossed with a cereal mix that's crispy, spicy and incredibly aromatic. The aroma comes from Nestum cereal, curry leaves, milk powder and butter.

cereal butter prawns

Cereal mix
  • ¾ cup Nestum cereal, original flavour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp milk powder

  • 8 medium size prawns, 300 g – trim, devein, wash, dry thoroughly
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • 1½ tbsp plain flour

  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 1 bird's eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 6-10 sprigs curry leaves – rinse, dry with paper towels, discard stalks
  1. Thoroughly stir cereal, salt, sugar and milk powder. Set aside.

  2. 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.
  3. Heat butter till bubbling and lightly brown. Add curry leaves and chilli. Fry over medium heat till fragrant.

  4. Reduce heat to low. Add cereal mix. Stir till lightly golden. Curry leaves should crisp up as excess moisture is absorbed by cereal.
  5. 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.