The coastal areas of Mexico are abundant with fresh prawns, and the locals have invented countless ways to cook this humble crustacean. This recipe is for delicate dumplings made of almost pure prawn, with just a little seasoning (and of course chilli!) added. They are served in a silky soup thickened by corn.
- 2 limes, halved
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 guajillo chillies, seeded, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained (see Note)
- ¼ cup masa harina (Mexican cornflour)
- 1 litre (4 cups) prawn stock
- salt, to taste
- 400 g peeled cooked prawns
- 2 arbol chillies, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (see Note)
- 50 ml prawn stock
- 1 egg, whisked
- 2 tsp vegetable oil, plus 1 litre (4 cups) extra, to fry
- salt, to taste
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.
To make the soup, place a 22 cm saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and onion. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and chillies and cook for a further 1 minute.
Add the masa harina and stir until the ingredients are coated. Add the stock and then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes, then transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for about 2 minutes or until very smooth. Pass the soup through a fine sieve and then reserve in a clean saucepan.
To make the dumplings, pass the prawns and arbol chillies through a mincer or meat grinder. Place the mixture in a bowl and add the stock, egg and oil. Season with salt. Use hands to mix for 2 minutes, ensuring that the seasoning and ingredients are evenly distributed. Divide the mixture into four equal portions, then divide each of those portions again into six equal balls. Roll between your hands until surface is very smooth.
In a 20 cm saucepan, heat the extra vegetable oil to 170˚C. Place the dumplings gently into the oil and cook for about 3 minutes or until lightly coloured. Remove from the oil and drain. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
To serve, heat the soup to a simmer. Place six dumplings in each serving bowl, then ladle the soup over the top. Serve immediately, with a plate of halved limes on the table to dress.
• The chillies used in this recipe are available from speciality food stores and Mexican grocers online.