Uli Yeomans celebrates the Chinese New Year with some prawn toast.
[New City Magazine – February 2022, page 22]
When a friend passed on a magazine she had finished reading, I noticed a recipe for a well-loved Chinese dish which I’m sharing now.
The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival falls on 1st February this year and introduces the Year of the Tiger. Celebrations finish with the Lantern Festival on 15th February. ‘But what do I know about China?’ I asked myself recently when thinking back to a conversation based on news reports of political and economic controversies between our countries. I was not proud of my very superficial contribution to that chat.
My personal experience of matters Chinese, though not extensive, are close to my heart. Our daughter-in-law is of Chinese/Malayan descent from whom we learn a lot about traditional family values, good food preparation and housekeeping. One of our sons is professionally involved with Chinese universities and students in Britain. Then we have a ‘Chinese chippy’ in our neighbourhood where as customers we are annually gifted a beautiful Chinese wall calendar. Earlier during the current pandemic I came across ‘Letters from Wuhan’, a series of articles offering insight into the everyday lives of ordinary people, interspersed with historical and cultural detail.
We invited the friend who had passed on the magazine to a sampling of the home-made prawn toast. It was delicious, and also very filling. Whilst chatting we all agreed that enjoying a country’s culinary delights is much easier than coming to terms with its government’s repressive ideology! However, we can think of the 1.4 billion inhabitants of China as overwhelmingly people like you and me, wanting to be respected for themselves and free to live and work in peace.
The Winter Olympics being held in China this month are one example of diverse cultures harmonising with each other. In its small way, prawn toast is another: combining prawn paste, a Hongkongese staple food, and toast, which originates in the west, and is classed as fusion cuisine.
▶ 200g frozen prawns
▶ 1 garlic clove, chopped
▶ 1 tsp grated ginger
▶ 1 egg white
▶ ½ tsp sugar
▶ 1 tsp soy sauce
▶ 2 spring onions, finely chopped
▶ 3 thin slices of bread
▶ sesame oil for brushing
▶ 1 egg, lightly beaten
▶ 100g sesame seeds
▶ Oil for frying
▶ Sweet chilli sauce
Blitz the first six ingredients to a paste and stir in the spring onions. Cool in the fridge to firm up. Lightly coat one side of each slice of bread with oil, spread with the prawn paste, carefully brush with the egg and sprinkle liberally with the seeds, pressing them down lightly to stick. Heat an inch of oil in a pan and, one at a time, fry the bread – first with the non-spreaded side down for about 1.5 min, then the spreaded side for 2-3 minutes until the seeds are golden. Cut into triangles and enjoy with a dip of sweet chilli sauce.
Photo: courtesy of Uli Yeomans