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Prawn crackers – How to make it at home from scratch

Prawn crackers (shrimp chips) are the classic Chinese appetizer everyone loves. It is a popular item that serves as snacks during Chinese New Year and is also widely served in some Chinese restaurants before meals in some western countries.

Called keropok in Malaysian and krupuk udang in Indonesia, these cracky equivalents to potato chips are ubiquitous snacks in all Southeast Asia countries.

It is made by rolling out the stiff dough, steamed, sliced, and sun-dried to remove the remaining moisture to achieve maximum crispiness,

Here is the step-by-step instruction on how to make prawn crackers at home.

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Prawn crackers (shrimp chips) are classic Chinese snacks. You can prepare homemade crispy crackers easily by following this recipe.

1. Make prawn cracker dough

This Chinese prawn crackers recipe only involves a few ingredients:- tapioca starch and prawn meat, seasoned with salt, sugar, oil, and ground white pepper. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used as a flavor enhancer for most store-bought prawn crackers, which can omit for homemade prawn crackers.

It is best to use fresh prawns to make the crackers. Remove the head of the shells if you are using large prawns, and reserve the shells/heads to make a delicious stock.

Tapioca starch is the main ingredient of prawn crackers and should be available in your favorite Asian market.

  1. Place the prawn meat in a food processor or blender, and blend the prawn meat with the amount of water mentioned in the recipe to form a smooth shrimp paste.
  2. Put the tapioca starch in a large mixing bowl, then add the shrimp paste and the seasonings (salt, sugar, oil, and ground white pepper.) Make sure the bowl is large enough as tapioca starch is very light and can drop out from the bowl easily.
  3. Continue mixing all the ingredients until the starch has been incorporated thoroughly with the prawn meat to form a stiff dough.

Note: The amount of water in the recipe is only a rough guide. You may need to add more water if the dough is too stiff to knead. On the other hand, you may add a small amount of tapioca starch if it is too sticky to handle.

Place the prawn chips under the sun, single layers to sun-dry for at least eight hours, or until it is thoroughly dry.

2. Steam the cracker log

  1. Shape the thick dough into a log. The size should be about the size of the container you use to steam it and make it is not too big so that it is able to use the mandoline to slice it later.
  2. Grease a bread tin with oil then place the log of uncooked dough in it and steam it for fifty minutes.  It is harmless if you steam it longer to ensure it is fully cooked. The uncooked portion of the crackers will not expand fully during deep-frying.
  3. Remove the logs of prawn paste from heat, and let it cool before removing it from the mold. Next, transfer it to a zip lock bag or wrap it with cling film and then keep it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will become much harder after being refrigerated, which is much easier to slice into thin pieces.

3. Sun-dry the crackers

  1. Cut the block of hardened dough into thin slices with a sharp knife. I use the Benriner mandoline, which is easier and produces slices of equal thickness each time. I would highly recommend getting this Japanese mandoline, which is a great tool to expedite your work in the kitchen.
  2. The thickness of the prawn crackers should be very thin, just shy of being fully translucent. It should be about 2mm.
  3. Place the prawn chips under the sun, single layers to sun-dry until thoroughly dry, which may take half a day or longer.  Flip the crackers occasionally to ensure they are exposed to the sun on both sides. Store the half-dried crackers in the refrigerator and continue drying on a sunny day if the weather is not good. Alternatively, dry them in a food dehydrator at 40°C/108°F for four hours.
  4. When the prawn chips are dry, the edge will curl up and be brittle.

If you do not immediately deep-fry the raw prawn crackers, keep them in an airtight container.

Prawn crackers (shrimp chips) are classic Chinese snacks. You can prepare homemade crispy crackers easily by following this recipe.

4. Deep-fry the prawn crackers

  1. Place some peanut oil or other vegetable oil with a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. You need to use enough oil to deep-fry the crackers to provide enough space for them to expand while frying.
  2. Heat the oil to about 180°C/355°F with the aid of a kitchen thermometer. Alternatively, check the oil temperature by placing a pair of wooden chopsticks into the oil. The temperature is suitable for deep-frying the prawn crackers when there is a stream of bubbles constantly rising around the chopsticks.
  3. Place the uncooked prawn crackers into the hot oil carefully to avoid the old splashing.
  4. The crackers will expand to several times larger than the original within a few seconds, much like making popcorn.
  5. Fish out the prawn crackers with a spider ladle. Drain them on paper towels or kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.

Storage and variations

You can substitute the prawn meat with fish meat to make fish crackers. For example, the state of Terengganu is known for its keropok lekor, the local fish cracker made from fish paste mixed with tapioca flour.

Store the prawn crackers in an airtight container when they return to room temperature. Most of the store-bought prawn crackers in Malaysia are packaged and sold in large plastic bags, sealed with a vacuum sealer. You can keep it for several weeks in vacuum bags.

Related recipes for prawn crackers

If you like prawn crackers, you would love to try the Malaysian prawn fritters called Cucur Udang. It is fresh prawn embedded in a batter consisting of flour, carrot, bean sprouts, and chives, then deep-fried until they puffed up. It is a typical Malaysian snack that you must try.

How about trying some traditional Chinese prawn dishes? Pan-fried shrimps with premium soy sauce are quick and easy to prepare, highly aromatic, and best to serve with white rice. 

Yield: 180 crackers

Prawn crackers - How to make it at home from scratch

prawn crackers recipe 3

Prawn crackers (shrimp chips) are classic Chinese snacks. You can prepare homemade crispy crackers easily by following this recipe.

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 41 minutes

Ingredients

  • 200g prawn meat
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 300g tapioca starch
  • More peanut oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Blend the prawn meat with the water mentioned to form a smooth shrimp paste.
  2. Put the tapioca starch in a large mixing bowl, then add the shrimp paste and salt, sugar, oil, and ground white pepper.
  3. Continue mixing all the ingredients until the starch has been incorporated thoroughly with the prawn meat to form a stiff dough.
  4. Shape the thick dough into a log. Grease a bread tin with oil then place the log of uncooked dough in it and steam it for fifty minutes.
  5. Remove the logs from the mold. Transfer it to a zip lock bag or wrap it with cling film and then keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Cut the block of hardened dough into thin slices with the Benriner mandoline.
  7. Place the prawn chips under the sun, single layers to sun-dry until thoroughly dry, which may take half a day or longer.  
  8. Flip the crackers occasionally to ensure they are exposed to the sun on both sides.
  9. Heat the peanut oil to about 180°C/355°F. Place the uncooked prawn crackers into the hot oil. The crackers will expand to several times larger than the original within a few seconds.
  10. Fish out the prawn crackers with a spider ladle. Drain them on paper towels or kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

180

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 10Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 24mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 3/31/2022

KP Kwan

Tuesday 5th of April 2022

Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am glad to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

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