Prawn crackers, also known as prawn chips and shrimp puffs are deep fried crackers made from starch and prawn that serve as flavouring.
They are a popular snack in parts of Southeast and East Asia. Prawn crackers are a common snack food throughout Southeast Asia, but most closely associated with Indonesia and Malaysia. These are called krupuk udang in Indonesian, prawn crackers in British English and shrimp chips or shrimp crackers in American English. They are known as kroepoek (old Indonesian spelling for krupuk, based on Dutch spelling rules) in Dutch, Krabbenchips (crab chips) in German, chips à la crevette in French and nuvole di drago (dragon clouds) in Italian.
- 1 kg whole green prawns (to yield approx 500g prawn meat after beheading and shelling)
- 500 g tapioca flour, divided
- 200 ml homemade prawn stock (instructions below)
- 3 - 4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- ground white pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Remove heads and shells from prawns.
- Using a small sharp knife, devein the prawns by making a slit along the back of each prawn and removing the intestinal tract.
- Dry the prawn meat with paper-towels and set aside (ensure they stay cold to prevent food poisoning).
- Place the heads and shells into a large pot with enough water to barely cover.
- Bring to the boil and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to approximately 1 cup (250 ml). (see note 1)
- Strain the heads and shells from the prawn stock
- Weigh the prawn meat to determine the amount of tapioca flour and stock needed for the prawn paste. The ratio for the prawn paste is 100 g of tapioca flour and 200ml prawn stock to 500 g prawn meat. (If you have less prawn meat, use proportionately less flour - see the chart in note 4)
- Sift the measured tapioca flour into a small bowl.
- Gradually add boiling prawn stock to the flour to make a sticky paste. (If your stock is very dense, it will be more like a dough ball).
- In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, blend the prawn meat together with the salt and white pepper to a fine paste.
- Add the tapioca flour paste from the previous steps and blend until the mixtures are thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the prawn paste to a large bowl.
- Sift 400 g tapioca flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder in a separate large bowl.
- Gradually work the sifted tapioca flour and baking powder into the prawn paste until you get a workable dough. (You may not need all of the 400 g tapioca starch - Do not make the dough too dry: add only enough tapioca flour to take the dough to a state where it can be easily handled and formed into rolls.)
- Form the dough into cylindrical rolls of between approximately 5 cm in diameter.
- Lightly grease the base of steamer trays or line them with damp muslin. (see note 2)
- Make sure the dough rolls are spaced well apart as they will double in size during steaming.
- Steam the rolls over rapidly boiling water for about 45 minutes - 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-towels over the rolls to stop condensation whilst they are cooking).
- Place the steam-cooked rolls on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Wrap each roll with glad-wrap (plastic cling film) and refrigerate overnight to allow the rolls to firm up for easy slicing.
- The next day, using a very sharp serrated knife, slice the rolls into thin slices of approx 1 mm thickness.
- 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 (35°C) and dry the slices for at least 18 hours.
- When completely dry and hard, store in an air-tight container in a cool dry place until required.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the larger wafers one at a time, spooning oil over them as they cook — the oil should be hot enough to make them swell within 2–3 seconds of being dropped in. Test with a small piece first. If the oil is not the right temperature they will be tough and leathery, not crisp and melting. On the other hand if the oil is too hot they will brown too fast. A little practice will tell how hot the oil should be. Remove the wafers with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel (placed on a wire rack — this will keep the wafers crisp). Cool thoroughly before storing in an airtight container. Once cooked they will keep for up to 4 days.
2. Don't put the rolls on plates to steam as water will collect on the plate and turn your dough into a soggy mess.
3. 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.
4. Proportional measurements for tapioca paste are:
500 g meat - 100 g flour for paste - 200 ml liquid
475 g meat - 95 g flour for paste - 190 ml liquid
450 g meat - 90 g flour for paste - 180 ml liquid
425 g meat - 85 g flour for paste - 170 ml liquid
400 g meat - 80 g flour for paste - 160 ml liquid
375 g meat - 75 g flour for paste - 150 ml liquid