If you have been anywhere by the sea in the Yucatan peninsula you will have had these deep-fried king prawns with a coconut batter. Curiously to me, they often come with an apple sauce, but less frequently they’re served with a papaya and habanero dipping sauce, which I like. The other problem is the batter is often too sweet, so this is my version with no sugar.
- 24 raw king prawns, peeled, tails on (about 600g/1lb 5oz frozen raw shell-on prawns)
For the batter
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 150ml/5fl oz ice-cold water
- 60g/2¼oz panko breadcrumbs
- 60g/2¼oz unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 600ml/200fl oz corn oil, for deep frying
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the papaya dipping sauce
- 1 large papaya, skin and seeds removed, roughly chopped
- ½–1 habanero chilli, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 1 banana shallot, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 thin slices fresh root ginger, skin removed
- 1 lime, juice only
- 1 orange, juice only
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 large pinch ground allspice
- ½ tsp salt
To make the dipping sauce, place all the ingredients into a food processer and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook gently over a low heat for 5 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick, add a few tablespoons of boiling water.
To make the batter, sift 125g/4½oz plain flour, the baking powder and pinch salt into a bowl. Make a well in centre and break in the egg. Bring in the flour from the sides to make a paste then whisk in the cold water to make a smooth batter.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and fill a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan two-thirds full with the oil. Heat to 180C (a cube of bread should turn brown in one minute when dropped in.) CAUTION: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.
Tip the remaining 50g/1¾oz flour into a shallow bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix together the breadcrumbs and coconut in a seperate bowl.
Coat each prawn in the flour, shaking off any excess, then holding it by the tail, dip it into the batter. Lift it out and let any excess batter drip back into the bowl. Roll the prawn in the coconut crumbs, pressing down so the mixture sticks. Put the prawn on the prepared tray and repeat until all are coated, leaving space between each one.
Deep-fry the prawns in batches for 1 or 2 minutes until golden-brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve at once with the papaya dipping sauce.