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How To Make Prawn Crackers

Updated on March 11, 2016
Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Image: Siu Ling Hui

"Oooh! I can taste prawns! " is the pleasantly surprised reaction from anyone who tastes home-made prawn crackers for the first time. Unlike commercial prawn crackers where the cost of prawns combined with profit imperative results in there being barely - if any - of the crustacean being present in the product, home- made versions will have upwards of 50%+  real prawns in them. Added bonuses are that there are no preservatives, colouring agents or other artificial additives.

Making prawn crackers is really easy. The only special equipment you will need if is a dehydrator. The crackers can be sun-dried but you'll need to watch out for 'local wildlife' such as cats etc from sampling your wares.

Home-made prawn crackers reflect the individual flavour characteristics of the type of prawns used. I've run a horizontal taste test of prawn crackers made with different types of prawns. Result? The most magnificent (and expensive!!) crackers are from wild caught King prawns. Farmed prawns tend to produce a much milder prawn flavour.  However, all are far superior to any commercial product.

You can also experiment with other types of seafood such as scallops, fish or for the ultimate indulgence, lobster or crayfish!

RECIPE GUIDELINES

The recipe should be looked at as a guideline for ingredient ratios. The aim is to try to keep the ratio of prawn meat to tapioca starch at 1:1 or less (ie more prawn than tapioca starch).

  • 1 kg whole prawns to yield 500g prawn meat after deheading and shelling
  • 100g tapioca starch for making paste & additional 400 g tapioca starch for making dough
  • 200ml prawn stock (made from heads and shells)
  • 3 - 4 tspn salt or to taste
  • ground white pepper
  • 2 tspn baking powder


Prepare Prawn Stock

Remove heads and shells from prawns. Using a small sharp knife, de-vein the prawns by making a slit along the back of each prawn and removing the intestinal tract. Dry the prawn meat with kitchen paper and set aside.

Place the heads and shells into a large pot with enough water to barely cover.

Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Image: Siu Ling Hui

Bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to approximately 300 ml. The reduced volume of liquid doesn't have to be precise at this stage - the aim is to get as much flavour out of the heads and shells as possible and achieve a concentrated prawn stock.

Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Image: Siu Ling Hui

Make Prawn Starch Paste

This is akin to the sour dough starter in bread making.

Strain the heads and shells from the prawn stock and measure the amount of stock. Weigh the prawn meat. For every 500 g of prawn meat, you require 200 ml of liquid. If the stock is greater than 200ml, boil it down to 200 ml. If you have say only 425 g prawn meat, boil the stock down to 170 ml. The arithmetic for the ratio calculation is as follows:
      425 ÷ 500 = 0.85 or 85% of the base reference weight of 500 g

Therefore, you only need 85% of the 200 ml liquid that applies for 500 g prawn meat. 85% of 200 ml is 170 ml.

Weight of prawns central to amount of other ingredients. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Weight of prawns central to amount of other ingredients. Image: Siu Ling Hui
Reduced Prawn Stock. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Reduced Prawn Stock. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Weigh out 100 g of tapioca starch for 500 g prawn meat. Again, if you have less prawn meat, use proportionately less. Sift the starch into a small bowl.

Gradually add boiling hot prawn stock to the starch to make a sticky paste. If your stock is very dense, it will be more like a dough ball as illustrated in this picture.

Prepare The Prawn Meat Paste

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, blend the prawn meat together with salt and pepper to a fine paste.

Grind prawn meat to fine paste. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Grind prawn meat to fine paste. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Add the tapioca starch paste that you have made in the previous step and blend until the mixture well combined and homogenous.

Ground prawn meat with prawn starch paste added. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Ground prawn meat with prawn starch paste added. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Make The Dough

Sift 400 g tapioca starch with 2 teaspoons baking powder in a large bowl. Transfer the prawn paste to a separate large bowl.

Gradually work the sifted starch into the prawn paste until you get a malleable dough. You don't want the dough to be too dry: add only enough starch to take the dough to a state where it can be easily handled and formed into rolls.

Depending on how damp the prawn paste is (which depends on how well you dried off the prawns and the stickiness of your tapioca starch paste), you may not need all 400 g tapioca starch. And that's a good thing as it means you will have a very high prawn content in your crackers!

Prawn "dough".  Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Prawn "dough". Image: Siu Ling Hui

Form Dough Into Rolls; Then Steam

Form the dough into cylindrical rolls of between 3 to 5 cm in diameter. You can do this "free hand". What I do to get evenly shaped cylinders is to roll the dough using a sushi mat lined with cling film.

Lightly grease the base of steamer trays or line them with damp muslin. You can use large bamboo steamers similar to the ones you see at dim sum places but they retain the smell of prawns afterwards. However, as they are relatively cheap, you can just throw them out after each use. Don't put the rolls on plates to steam as water will collect on the plate and turn your dough into a soggy mess.

Make sure the rolls are spaced well apart as they will double in size during steaming.

Prawn dough rolls ready for steaming. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Prawn dough rolls ready for steaming. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Steam the rolls over rapidly boiling water for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the diameter of your rolls. If your steaming vessel doesn't have a vented lid, either leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape or drape damp muslin or tea-towel over the rolls to stop condensation whilst they are cooking.

Prawn dough rolls soon after steamer lid is removed. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Prawn dough rolls soon after steamer lid is removed. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Slice The Rolls To Form Crackers

Place the cooked rolls on a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap each roll with cling film and refrigerate overnight. This allows the rolls to firm up for easy slicing.

Rolls firmed up after refrigeration, ready for slicing. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Rolls firmed up after refrigeration, ready for slicing. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the rolls into slices of around 1 mm thickness.

Cut rolls into thin slices. Image: Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Cut rolls into thin slices. Image: Image: Siu Ling Hui

Dry The Prawn Cracker Slices

It is important the crackers are thoroughly dried and very hard. They will not puff up properly on frying if there is moisture present.

Prawn crackers are traditionally sun-dried, a process which takes several days and good weather on your side. Drying overnight in a dehydrator is the most efficient way but in the absence of a dehydrator, leave them on wire racks in a dry airy place (a sunny spot is ideal but not essential) for at least 24 hours until quite well-dried out and then complete the drying in a very low oven for several hours.

To dry the crackers in a dehydrator, spread the slices in single layers on the food dehydrator trays. Set the dehydrator at the lowest setting (35ºC) and dry the slices for at least 18 hours.

Prawn cracker slices spread out to dry in food dehydrator. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Prawn cracker slices spread out to dry in food dehydrator. Image: Siu Ling Hui

When they are completely dry and hard, store them in an air-tight container in a cool dry place until required. I keep mine in the refrigerator.

Prawn cracker slices after 18 hours drying time. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Prawn cracker slices after 18 hours drying time. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Frying Prawn Crackers

Deep fry the crackers in very hot oil. As they will puff up within seconds of being placed in the oil, fry only 4 -5 crackers at a time so that you can remove them very quickly. Drain the cooked crackers on kitchen paper.

They can be served immediately or stored in a large air-tight jar (you'll find the jar empties very quickly!). Enjoy!

Drain fried crackers on kitchen paper to drain off any oil. Image:  Siu Ling Hui
Drain fried crackers on kitchen paper to drain off any oil. Image: Siu Ling Hui

Comments

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    • profile image

      elizabeth  6 years ago

      Oh my god, what have I been eating all this time!!! these look amazing Foodstuff. And I love that you include all those tips within the recipe

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, Elizabeth. Try making them - you'll never eat commercial crackers again! One batch goes a long way.

    • jojokaya profile image

      jojokaya 5 years ago from USA

      Wow...this is good. My favorite. thanks for sharing it

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 5 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, jojokaya. Glad you enjoyed it. Have you tried making it?

    • profile image

      from Japan 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing it.I couldn't find how to make it in Japanese.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi from Japan, You are welcome! Hope you will try making them!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Oooh! I can taste prawns!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      LOL! Hope you enjoyed them PC PC PC PC, ALERT!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Yes, they were very nice:)

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      Excellent!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Hmm.... are they your favourite things to eat? They are mine, for ever!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      I always have a supply of them in my fridge, ready to fry when required. :)

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Same with me! I love them!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Mmmm.....soo crunchy!:)

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      Love your enthusiasm and enjoyment!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Why thank you!:)

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      LOL!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Hehe, hope you enjoyed it!:')

    • profile image

      Maui 4 years ago

      Hi I was wondering if i can dry 'em in oven? Thanks.. Can't try to make 'em.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi Maui,

      That should work. Just keep your oven at a very low temperature and leave the door slightly opened so that moisture can escape. Let me know how you go with them!

    • profile image

      PC PC PC PC, ALERT! 4 years ago

      Hello, i have had so many prawn crackers since we last met(: you recipe is so good

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      I am delighted that you've had so much pleasure from that recipe.

    • lemonkerdz profile image

      lemonkerdz 4 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

      thanks for sharin this info. i love prawn crackers shame in peru prawns are too expensive and i can't get tapioca flour. even so love the hub and really good fotos.

      voted up.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      Thank you, lemonkerdz. I didn't realise you couldn't get tapioca flour in Peru. What a shame!

    • profile image

      Mmm,food is good.. 4 years ago

      woah,i love this recipe,thank you so much

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      You're welcome, Mmm,food is good. Glad you enjoy it!

    • profile image

      deejah 4 years ago

      This are like the best prawn crackers ever, tried it and your recipe is too good, the best......my friend was wondering if there are vegan crackers

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, deejah. As for vegan crackers, I think they can be made using the same principles. I haven't tried doing it with vegies but I think it would work if you puree the veggies first and then blend it with the tapioca flour paste. The thing to watch for though is the water content in the veggies. If the veggies have very high water content, might be an idea to squeeze some of the excess water out of the veggies before you blend with the tapioca flour paste, so that you don't have to add so much tapioca flour when making the dough. The aim is to keep the veggie content as high as possible. Let me know if that works.

    • profile image

      Daniel Kwan 3 years ago

      I will try.

      We used to do it at home in Sandakan, Sabah.

      Have been wanting to find a receipt that matches it.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Hi Daniel,

      Do try making it. And let me know how you go with the recipe.

    • profile image

      Food 3 years ago

      Wow!!!thank you for the recipe I love prawn crackers!!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Hi Food, Enjoy!!!

    • profile image

      Prawny 3 years ago

      Thank you so much!!!!!!!!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Hi Prawny, I presume you enjoyed the crackers? Great stuff!!!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 3 years ago from United States

      I've had prawn crackers when now and then, but I never thought that it can be made at home, and it's relatively easy indeed! Thanks for sharing your wonderful snack recipe. :)

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      You're welcome, vibesites. Enjoy! It's even better when home made.

    • profile image

      CrackersAboutPrawns 3 years ago

      Thanks for the recipe!i love prawn crackers so much!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Glad you like it, CrackersAbout Prawns!

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

      Now I know about homemade prawn crackers... They are more natural and delicious indeed... Goes great with beer hehehe. Thanks for posting :)

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Glad that you now have a great snack with your beer, iguidenetwork!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow, i didn't know making prawn crackers need so much work. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. Voted up

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, peachpurple! It's really not a lot of work...do try it!

    • profile image

      harry 3 years ago

      Hi foodstuff. That's really great. According to your description I think I will eat my commercial prawn crackers first and then I'll try tour's or else I think they'll never be eaten!!! By the way where can I get the tapioca starch?

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 3 years ago from Australia

      Hi Harry, After you eat home made prawn crackers, you'll never eat commercial ones again. :) Tapioca starch - all Asian grocery stores will have them.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Looks delicious. It's interesting how some prawn crackers don't even taste like prawns.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 2 years ago from Australia

      Hi Hezekiah, Commercial prawn crackers have hardly any prawns, if any, in them. If you look at the ingredients on the commercial packs, some of them say "prawn flavouring"! I hope you will try making these!

    • Easy-tasty-recipe profile image

      Easy-tasty-recipe 2 years ago

      Oh yummm...I would love to try these but I dont have the dehydrator. :( Any tips?

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 2 years ago from Australia

      Easy-tasty-recipe, You could try sun-drying them (just make sure no animals or pests get to them) or put them in a very very low oven.

    • jcsteele profile image

      Jelena 21 months ago from Florida

      Really interesting recipe i never thought to make a prawn cracker.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 21 months ago from Australia

      jcsteele, Do try it. You will never eat commercial prawn crackers again!

    • wonderfulweb profile image

      GadEl 21 months ago from Africa

      This is some yummy stuff there. Many people enjoy prawn these days I guess.

    • Hazel Abee profile image

      Hazel Abee 20 months ago from Malaysia

      This is a must try ... when I saw the boiling prawns .. my thoughts were 'Prawn TomYum'

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 20 months ago from Australia

      Hazel Abee Do try it. You will never eat commercial prawn crackers again.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      I never had prawns before. But this recipe looks interesting. Voted up for useful!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 19 months ago from Australia

      Thanks, Kristen Howe. Hope you will try out the recipe.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      You're welcome. Maybe this fall!

    • profile image

      kiliman 17 months ago

      I have been making these since I found your recipe but since then, I've been using lobster based broth (easier than prawn skin) and crab meat. It is good ! I also added a 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. My question is, is there a substitute for tapioca flour?

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 17 months ago from Australia

      Hi kiliman, Glad to hear you've been making them. No, I don't think you'll get the same results with say, cornflour or potato flour. Are you having problems getting tapioca flour?

    • profile image

      kiliman 17 months ago

      Where I live, I have limited access to exotic ingredients (except Amazon). How about rice flour?

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 16 months ago from Australia

      You could try rice flour, but rice flour behaves differently from tapioca flour.

    • profile image

      Jasmine 16 months ago

      I just made those. You were right, never again i will eat store bought shrimp chips. I am truly in awe.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 16 months ago from Australia

      Great to hear, Jasmine. Glad you enjoyed them.

    • profile image

      Fifi 9 months ago

      Hi, great recipe. I also have questions about substituting tapioca powder with potatoe powder or at least adding it for flavour. Would this work? Thanks!

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 9 months ago from Australia

      Hi Fifi, it is best to use tapioca flour as this has the appropriate binding texture and gives the best final results for the crackers.

    • profile image

      Fifi 8 months ago

      What a magical moment when my prawn crackers puffed up before my eyes. Could hardly believe I could make something that could behave like this! :)

      Only thing is some of my crackers were chewy, what did I maybe miss?

    • profile image

      Ninja 5 months ago

      Not dry enough, or oil wasn't hot enough. Oil should be at 400F for puffing crackers, pig skin, etc.

    • Foodstuff profile image
      Author

      Foodstuff 5 months ago from Australia

      Fifi, Your crackers may not have been dry enough. They must be properly dried out for frying. Or as Ninja suggested, your oil may not have been hot enough.

      I hope your crackers still tasted good!

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