15 Nov2010


Sumptuous, festive and generous. But simple and quick to make. It screams special because prawns are not everyday fare, and should impress your guests without breaking the bank. Buy a kilo of medium to large black tiger prawns. Trim their whiskers(?), leave the shells on, but cut into the shell where the digestive tract is and remove any poopy looking matter. Rinse prawns clean. Place in a non-reactive bowl (stainless or ceramic or glass) and cover with cool water and add 1 tablespoon of sea salt (not iodized) and mix a bit before placing this is the fridge for an hour or so. The brine will make your prawns more juicy. Take the prawns out of the fridge and drain and dry well with paper towels.


Place a wok or kawali over a strong burner and add 3-4 cups of vegetable oil. Turn the burner on high until the oil is very hot. In batches, so as not to crowd your fat and bring the temperature of the oil down too much, sprinkle prawns with some sifted cornstarch and deep fry for a minute or so until bright orange and the meat is just cooked but still juicy. Remove and drain on dry paper towels. Continue until all the prawns are fried. Then, add a new dry pan to the heat and wait for it to get hot. Add some good salt (I used kosher, you can also use sea salt, DO NOT use iodized salt) and freshly ground black pepper and all the fried prawns and toss just long enough for the salt and pepper to adhere to the prawns. Try adding a generous pinch of five-spice powder to the mix if you have it (a trick I learned from readers APM and Bettyq, I think) and serve immediately. If you are feeling lazy, you could just add the salt and pepper and cornstarch all at once, but there is something unique about the two pan approach – the prawns are crispy and chewy in the same bite, it’s hard to explain. But delicious and easy. This should serve 6 with other dishes at the dinner table. Enjoy! :)



  1. Pilar says:

    This is a big big hit on the table whenever I serve prawns this way. Kids love them while adults love steamed ones. :)

    Nov 15, 2010 | 6:25 am


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  3. Pinksalmonlady says:

    Looking and reading your post MM makes me hungry. A very easy and simple dish. I will definitely try to cook the salt and pepper prawns this Christmas.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 6:26 am

  4. bearhug0127 says:

    Makes me want to eat now. I’m hungry! Saraaaaaap….

    Nov 15, 2010 | 6:49 am

  5. bubut says:

    wow! how will i become a vegetarian if i could see these lovely prawns? Nakakagutom.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 9:36 am

  6. Anything Under the Sun says:

    whoah!!! delisyoso!

    Nov 15, 2010 | 9:52 am

  7. jay p says:

    Hey Marketman,

    out of curiosity, why not iodized?

    Nov 15, 2010 | 10:01 am

  8. manny says:

    I just had chili shrimps last night and yet am getting the craving to have this tonight….

    Nov 15, 2010 | 10:44 am

  9. eden claire says:

    I’ll try this one when I’m home in Mindanao for Christmas – looks real good!

    Nov 15, 2010 | 10:53 am

  10. Franky says:

    Nov 15, 2010 | 10:53 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Franky, thanks for that link, I almost forgot that I wrote that post! jay p, the iodized salt has a chemical aftertaste, hence I prefer salt without it.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 11:24 am

  12. jhaz says:

    I will try this tonight MM. Can I use the suahe type of shrimp?

    Nov 15, 2010 | 11:52 am

  13. nina says:


    i saw this article on sort of christmas baskets from an organic farm.. the prices are amazingly high.
    Lively Lemongrass, PHP 1,255
    Bottle of lemongrass syrup, glass pitcher, two drinking glasses, wooden stirrer, five calamansi.

    five calamansi!


    what do you think of it? i’m honestly curious as to how they are priced and who buys them? would you? I’m sure they have a reason for the pricing..still..

    Nov 15, 2010 | 12:05 pm

  14. Ellen says:

    This is tomorrow’s dinner! Not waiting until Xmas MM! Hehe

    Nov 15, 2010 | 12:45 pm

  15. millet says:

    yes, am such a fan of brining. brining the shrimp before cooking makes a world of difference! that’s what makes them bouncy? springy? to the bite (i can’t find a better word to describe them) and tender at the same time.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 1:01 pm

  16. millet says:

    haven’t tried prawns cooked this way, though, but i have some large shrimp in the freezer and will definitely do this. MM, isn’t that a whole lot of oil to be frying with, or are the shrimp really supposed to be deep-fried?

    Nov 15, 2010 | 1:03 pm

  17. Gerry says:

    Just had a discussion with some friends over which was better, the large white shrimp or the black tiger prawns. The white shrimp’so flesh seems to be more tender and their lower price makes it a great deal.

    For taste, nothing beats the true sea caught suahe, which they serve as drunken shrimp in some Chinese restaurants. They’re small and harder to peel but they have the sweetest flesh and sucking on their heads results in a concentrated hit of fresh shrimp flavor. This should not be mistaken for the live suahe they sell in some groceries. These are farmed shrimp that don’t have the sweet flavor of the true suahe, and sucking on the heads results in a muddy, bitter flavor.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 1:26 pm

  18. EbbaBlue says:

    In the food channel, one chef sprinkled his soft shell crab with rice-flour (like the ones my mom used for puto), he said it is much crunchier. I wonder if I will do the same with your shrimp recipe.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 1:33 pm

  19. cheeseheadeatsushi says:

    Thanks for the two-pan tip! I have been a guest in some homes where this is served as breakfast fare.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 1:59 pm

  20. cca19 says:

    Where can I buy seasalt here in Manila?

    Nov 15, 2010 | 2:14 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    cca19, large groceries like Metro Gaisano at Market!Market! and Rustan’s have various types of salt without iodine, like kosher, seasalts, etc. If you are near a provincial manufacturer of salt, buy rock salt without the iodine added. Ebbablue, yes, rice flour works nicely as well. That’s what goes into tempura batter. Gerry, yes, I often prefer white shrimp as they seem to be less tough and flavor more sweet and delicate. millet, yes, deep fried.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 2:20 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    nina, the prices seem quite high to me. But then again, they had the idea, they did the packaging, and assembled the goods. I am a very hands on person and would do they myself. We grow our own organic lemongrass and other herbs. Or you could go to the Seedling bank in QC and buy potten herbs for less than PHP80 each and give a selection away for much less money… but all the effort and hassle is yours.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 2:23 pm

  23. Raymund says:

    Those prawns are lovely! I remember when my mom visits Philippines we always buy 10 kilos of these at supermarkets as prawn in Zurich is so expensive.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 5:25 pm

  24. nina says:

    this is true. i actually had a small garden myself (lemongrass, alugbati, okra, cilantro, basil…) and did my own composting. It was a really fun period and i’d probably do it again if i have space where i live now.

    i guess that’s why i was surprised at the prices.

    Thanks for taking the time, Marketman :)

    Nov 15, 2010 | 6:05 pm

  25. eric says:

    hi MM, on a semi-related note, isn’t there a red tide advisory lately? i was just wondering if you recently bought these shrimp (and where?)

    Nov 15, 2010 | 6:51 pm

  26. cindy says:

    This sounds really good. Would this be the same recipe to make salt and pepper squid?

    Nov 15, 2010 | 8:40 pm

  27. Marketman says:

    eric, bought the prawns at the Seaside market. And yes, I had heard about red tide in four locations, out of thousands of possible sources in the Philippines, so I took the risk. I was hoping that the vendors would not be selling from Bataan or else they risked losing all of their business if they were passing bad product. I wouldn’t eat clams, mussels, scallops from most local sources regardless of red tide warnings, but I seem to be less concerned with shrimp — and I am not sure that is a rational and explanable risk behavior. :) cindy, similar to salt and pepper squid, yes.

    Nov 15, 2010 | 8:49 pm

  28. Kate says:

    can you cook this without the shell or would it be too salty? i noticed that most of the flavoring ends up on the shrimp’s shell :)

    Nov 15, 2010 | 10:38 pm

  29. Tiara says:

    These are mouthwatering! I just wish I’m not allergic to prawns. :(

    Nov 16, 2010 | 2:59 am

  30. Marketman says:

    Kate, the shell is meant to help protect the delicate meat and keep it moist. But I know what you mean about the flavoring on the shell. I sometimes eat the shells if the prawns are young enough… :) Tiara, how about an allergy pill? :)

    Nov 16, 2010 | 10:11 am

  31. Wenko says:

    Hi MM…Can u pls add a Share This button? Thanks a bunch! Prawns look yummy!!! mmm hmmmm….

    Nov 16, 2010 | 7:24 pm

  32. Franky says:

    this blog has to be on facebook. share function MM?

    Nov 17, 2010 | 1:42 pm

  33. Quillene says:

    Thanks for the dinner idea, MM! :D

    Nov 17, 2010 | 5:08 pm

  34. faith says:

    About places to buy sea salt, I bought a 3-pound bag of coarse sea salt from Landmark Supermarket Trinoma. 105.95 pesos. First time to buy, ever, and I don’t know if that price is reasonable? too expensive? What made me buy it was seeing another one, already in its own small mill that was only around 6 inches tall? And that cost way more than the 3-pound bag.

    Nov 18, 2010 | 9:20 pm

  35. reggie says:

    hi again marketman.
    i tried this recipe today for a special advance thanksgiving dinner and it was a hit.told my guests its your recipe. Thanks so much!
    Ill email you about the article we intend to write on your survey of groceries.specially this holiday season, it would be most helpful to come out with a comparison of prices of christmas and new year grocery items most frequently bought!

    Nov 19, 2010 | 10:26 pm

  36. yazi says:

    Hi MM! How about frying the shrimps using Lard. Been reading about your post re lard and im thinking if it will be a good idea..what do you think?

    Jan 22, 2011 | 6:02 am

  37. Marketman says:

    yazi, yes you can use lard. I have another post elsewhere where I do fry shrimp in lard…

    Jan 22, 2011 | 7:30 am

  38. yazi says:

    i thought so! tnx.. pupunta ako mamaya sa banilad pra tikman ung lechon nyo. more power! sana mkta kta d2 sa cebu pra mkahingi na dn ng autograph. :)

    Jan 22, 2011 | 10:38 am

  39. Kaye says:

    Hi MM, been reading your posts every now and then since you’ve started the blog and I was still residing overseas at that time. Your hands-on approach is very appealing to me and I could read and re-read your posts, as I love going through wet markets and quite an ace in haggling myself. :-)

    On the recipe above, how about adding minced garlic? I normally put everything together (prawns/shrimps, kosher salt, brown sugar, powdered whole peppercorns and minced garlic), on a very hot skillet with no oil. The shells should turn pinkish red in a few seconds, normally after a full 2 minutes I adjust to low heat and let the prawns cook in their own juice mixed with the other ingredients till they all dry up; at which point I then add a tbs of oil or just enough to coat the shells then fry them until the shells turn reddish-brown. A sweet aromatic but a little pungent smell should be wafting from your kitchen at that time.

    I serve this to the most picky eaters amongst my loved ones and friends, and even to the disgruntled lot. I also tried cooking up to a kilo and deep-freezing into meal serving portions.

    If you or any of the readers have any special prawn recipes to share I’d be very happy to test it in my kitchen.

    Jun 13, 2011 | 3:05 am


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