Prawns With Indonesian Sauce

Prawns are one of my favourites. Thankfully, prawns can be cooked in so many ways, so they don’t get boring. After my Rinjani expedition, I learned to make a special Indonesian sauce that goes very well with vegetables and prawns.

Here I have some angka prawns. They were frozen, but they taste just as good as the “fresh” variety as long as you thaw them slowly. The prawns here all had their shells cut open from the top and deveined.

Other than a dash of sambal and a couple of teaspoons of salt, the ingredients can all be seen here. Sliced tomatoes, lime leaves, gula Melaka. Boil up the mixture, then slowly simmer it down to a thick gravy. You may need to add a little water, but probably not more than a couple of tablespoons full.

Set the sauce aside, then fry some garlic with your prawns. You don’t need to cook them fully. Just make sure they are coated with oil and under high heat, the aroma of the fried shells emerges.

Once you’ve got the aromatic vapours from the prawns rising, pour in the special sauce you’ve prepared and bring everything to a slow boil. Don’t forget that the prawns will release some moisture, so don’t add water. You want to reduce the liquid.

Toss the prawns around to make sure it’s evenly cooked. The final result should be almost dry. Squeeze the juice from one lime to make it even more appetising.

There we have it. Prawns with Indonesian sauce. Do try this at home. Your kids will love it.

Fried Chicken Wings With Plum Sauce

This wonderful dish looks rather common but it’s actually not that easy to make. There are two main steps involved here. The first step is to prepare the chicken wings and the second is to prepare the gravy. For the wings, you would need to marinate them with salt, pepper and plain flour. Keep them in the refrigerator for an hour or two.

Next, you fry the chicken wings. Most chefs would deep fry. It can be quite a challenge using so little oil, but with plenty of manipulation with a pair of wooden chopsticks, you can still get the wings quite evenly browned on most sides.

The end result of skillful pan-frying should look something like this. Once you’re done with frying the chicken wings, you would set the aside and prepare your “glaze”.

I have some chopped garlic and chilli back in the pan. Fry till the garlic starts to brown, then add about 2 cups of water, a couple of tablespoons of plum sauce. Toss the wings back in the pan and treat them with a drizzle of light soya sauce.

Turn down the heat, slowly reduce the liquid until it begins to look as if your wings are honey-coated. Scoop them them and serve.

There we have it, chicken wings with plum sauce. Do try this at home. As sweet as it’s savoury, the kids are sure to love it. Eat in moderation it can be quite fattening.

Fried Hongkong Noodles

There is a zer cha stall at Toa Payoh that does Hongkong fried seafood noodles pretty well. I was their regular customer when I was on course at the College of TCM. Most other stalls don’t do seafood. Instead, they pepper the entire dish with pellets of yucky char siew.

If not for the char siew, this would easily be one of my favourite dishes. I love the aromatic and sweet, rich taste of the noddles, but for years, I have not been able to crack the code. I’ve tried different types of noodles, different ingredients, seasoning, but I just could get the right taste of my favorite Hongkong noodles until …

spring onions

Springs onions, the first secret ingredient. I could have kicked myself for not having noticed it. In such small quantities, the taste that it imparts is pretty subtle. Nevertheless, it’s quite essential.

Onions, eggs, prawns

Onions, eggs and prawns are a must for this dish. The Cantonese have a term called “wok hei” which refers to an aroma from the wok. Actually, “wok hei” comes from a slight charring of ingredients like onions, eggs and prawn shells.

Egg noodles

For egg noodles, I would boil the dried variety until it’s quite al dente. Then I’d fish it out and let it cool down. Make sure it’s not soggy.


Vegetables add to the colour and balances the nutritional value of this dish. You can use cabbage or any other type of vegetables. Carrots are good, provided you precook them.

Hongkong noodles

Can you guess the first step? Easy. Just fry the chopped onions and spring onions in oil till you see some signs of browning – that’s going to contribute to the “wok hei”.

Hongkong noodles

Next, add the eggs and prawns. Turn up the heat until you’re scared that it may burn. Toss things around to avoid burning.

Hongkong noodles

Finally, the veggies and egg noodles. The next secret ingredient is salt. Yes, ordinary table salt. Soy sauce and oyster sauce will rob the dish of its natural onion and egg flavours. For this amount of ingredients, add about one teaspoon of salt. Toss everything around really well to make sure the noodles get oiled and the salt gets dissolved in the vegetable juices.

Hongkong noodles

Keep the heat on and add a teaspoon of sweet black sauce. In order to get the same level of sweetness as that in my favourite stalls, I need to add almost 2 teaspoons of sweet sauce, but this also makes the noodles a bit darker than what I get outside. I’m not sure if sugar is another secret ingredient.

Anyway, this comes very close in terms of taste. Since the appearance here is quite acceptable, I don’t think I’d need to find an answer to that as well.