Did you know that the word for prawns in Cantonese (and some other Chinese dialects) sounds like "ha", symbolising laughter (笑 哈哈) and happiness? With Chinese New Year just a few days off you might like to try this easy, delicious prawn dish embellished by XO Sauce.
In Hong Kong, the term XO is slang for something high quality and luxurious. Legend has it that it was invented by a cook at the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon in the early 1980s who named it after the pricy drink-of-the-moment, XO cognac. Dried scallops, dried shrimp and cured ham are just some of the expensive ingredients used to make this complex, intensely flavoured sauce. Make sure to use a good-quality XO sauce, either homemade or store-bought.
- Prep Time : 10-15 minutes
- Cook Time : 6-7 minutes
- Yield : 4
Clean the prawns by removing heads, skin and intestinal tract, then butterfly them with a flat knife so that they curl up when cooked.
Place the heads and skin in a medium saucepan. Add some peanut or vegetable oil and cook gently for half 30- 40 minutes. Strain into a jar through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
Put some of the prawn oil in a wok. Add the prawns and cook until they curl up, being careful not to overcook them as they will become dry and rubbery.
Add the snow peas and stir-fry for 40 -60 seconds, then add shallots and cook 40-60 seconds. Add a generous spoonful of XO sauce, stir well and cook for 2 -3 minutes.
Drizzle the slaked cornflour mixture over the the prawns and vegetables, shaking the wok until the prawns and snow peas are well coated in the sauce.
Serve on a platter and eat immediately.
with thanks to Masou Nodoust & David Humphries of the Public Art Squad, Rosebery, for the recipe