Not just for Chinese takeaways, you know. An essential component of any self-respecting Fisherman’s basket, these cutlets are also great on their own, as a mighty fine finger food.
- 24 raw king prawns (shrimp)
- 75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 90 g (3¼ oz/1½ cups) breadcrumbs, made from two-day-old bread
- vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying
- fine sea salt, for sprinkling
- lemon wedges, to serve
- tartare sauce or cocktail sauce, for dipping (optional)
- 165 g (5¾ oz/²⁄₃ cup) good-quality ready-made mayonnaise
- 1½ tbsp very finely chopped white onion, squeezed to extract any liquid
- 2 tbsp salted capers, rinsed well and finely chopped
- 2 small sweet, spiced gherkins or dill pickles, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1½–2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 3 tsp good-quality white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 120 g (4¼ oz/½ cup) good-quality ready-made mayonnaise
- 1½ tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
- 3 tsp horseradish cream
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- a few drops Tabasco sauce
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 1–2 hours
Peel the prawns, leaving the tails attached. Take a small sharp knife and cut a line along the back of each prawn, where you can see the digestive tract – from the tail end to the head end. Make sure you don’t cut right through the prawn – just three-quarters of the way. Remove the digestive tract and discard.
Use your fingers to open the prawns up from the incision and flatten them down. Now use a rolling pin or the back of a heavy knife to gently beat the prawns out a little more, so that they lay flat, but don’t beat them to the point of ripping the flesh.
Prepare three bowls, one of well-seasoned flour, one with beaten eggs and one with breadcrumbs. Individually dip the prawns in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into the egg, allowing any excess egg to drip back into the bowl, then cover with the breadcrumbs, pressing down lightly to help them adhere. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with all the prawns, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
To make the tartare sauce, simply place all the ingredients in a small non-metallic bowl and mix together well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, to allow the flavours to develop. Store in the fridge and use within 1 week. Makes about 250 g (1 cup).
To make the cocktail sauce, simply place all the ingredients in a small non-metallic bowl and mix together well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving, to allow the flavours to develop. Store in the fridge and use within 1 week. This sauce is the quintessential prawn (shrimp) cocktail dressing; toss with cooked peeled prawns and serve with lettuce and avocado for a quick prawn cocktail. Makes about 185 g (¾ cup).
When ready to cook, one-third fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan with oil and heat to 170°C (325°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown in 20 seconds. Cook the prawns in batches for 2 minutes, or until golden and just cooked through. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with fine sea salt. Serve with lemon wedges, and a dipping sauce, if desired.
Recipe and image from Milkbar Memories by Jane Lawson (Murdoch Books, $39.99, pbk).