I love Hokkien prawn noodle soup. Its broth, especially, smelled heavenly after all those hours of simmering in pork bones, prawn shells and other spices. I ate it often, and any time of day -- breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even supper.
|Dried prawn shells - cheap and good|
But preparing it at home is not a cheap affair. You need literally tons of prawn shell for the broth. However, on a recent trip to Hong Kong, I found dried prawn shells that cost a fraction of the price of fresh ones.
Five years ago, I had a wonderful rigatoni tossed in crustacean oil prepared by Chef Anderson Ho. To me, it was like prawn noodle ‘ala modern style’ with a more ‘stylo’ touch. Le Papillon, where Chef Anderson served this acclaimed dish, has since closed; but I was lucky to have had a chance to taste it. I even shamelessly pestered Chef Anderson to cook the dish for me at his home – and he did a couple of times!
|Prawn roe - washed, dried and roasted|
Inspired by its flavors, I attempted my own version of modern-style Prawn Noodle, adapting the Pesto Pasta method from the Italian. Most thrilling was preparing the crustacean oil using the dried prawn shells I bought from Hong Kong, and garlic. I used roasted candlenut instead of pine nuts, to give the recipe an Asian touch, and finished off with dried prawn roe. Just a point to note, however, dried prawn roe is increasingly difficult to find in Hong Kong, and also increasingly expensive -- but just a dash of it adds a different dimension to the dish.
The end product may be a far cry from Chef Anderson’s creation, but I had fun preparing and eating it!
Spaghetti in Crustacean Pesto with Tiger Prawn and Dried Prawn Roe
Angel hair spaghetti 120 g
Water 2 litres
Salt 2 tsp
Tiger prawns 4, shelled and grilled
Arugula 20 g
Prawn roe ½ tsp
Pepper to taste
Garlic 2 cloves
Dried shrimps 5 g, soaked in warm water for 20 mins, and drained
Crustacean oil 100 ml
Salt to taste
Oil ½ cup
Dried prawn shells 100 g or 300 g of fresh prawn shells/heads
Garlic 25 g, minced
Tomato paste 2 tbsp
Butter 80 g
- Boil salted water for spaghetti.
- Meanwhile, sauté the candlenuts, dried shrimps, garlic for 10 mintues. Let it cool.
- Combine fried candlenuts, dried shrimps, garlic, salt, and crustacean oil, and pound into a paste using mortar and pestle.
- Boil spaghetti according to package instruction, then drain.
- While boiling the spaghetti, grill prawns until just cooked.
- Toss spaghetti with prawn pesto thoroughly.
- Lay some arugula on the plate; follow with spaghetti, grilled prawns, dried prawn roe. Drizzle some crustacean oil before serving.
- To heighten the dish with a more Asian touch, I included fried garlic as garnishing.
- Fry prawn shells in a dry wok until the water evaporates. Add oil and garlic and continue to fry until garlic turns golden brown.
- Add tomato paste and butter and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Cool and refrigerate it for 2 days.
- Drain the shells and keep the crustacean oil.