Pickled prawns are perfect as a dinner party appetizer or a light lunch. Sweet and sour with a spicy kick, this delightful crowd-pleaser is sure to become a regular staple for when you entertain from home.
Our simple pickling recipe for prawns — which hints at the traditional Cape Malay-style recipe for making pickled fish — makes each bite a tangy delight for your taste buds.
Instant appetizer or pickle for later
What makes this recipe special, is that you can serve the prawns immediately with the pickling liquid as a sauce and — if you double up the recipe — you can pop the rest into mason jars and refrigerate for the flavours to marry and soak into the prawns.
What you need for the perfect sweet and sour pickling liquid:
Despite the long list of pickling ingredients, the recipe for pickled prawns is actually a snap to put together. The pickling liquid is a combination of vinegar, crunchy onions, sugar (to temper the sourness of the vinegar), bay leaves, peppercorns and warming spices, such as:
- Mustard seeds;
- Fresh ginger;
- Tumeric; and
- Green chillies.
What prawns are best?
The recipe calls for frozen prawns. If you can get them peeled and de-veined too, that’s even better. Defrost them under running water for about 10 minutes before cooking in a pot with salty water for about three to six minutes. The prawns will float to the top when they’re done.
Delicious ways to serve pickled prawns
Serve the pickled prawns on toast, crusty baguette or rice to soak up the golden turmeric pickling sauce. You could also serve it alongside complimentary appetizers like deviled eggs.
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel
- 1 tbsp grounded cumin
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 3 green chillies split through the middle and deseeded
- 8 bay leaves
- ½ cup sugar
- 500 ml brown vinegar
- 5 onions, sliced into rings
- Salt to taste
- 1 ½ cups cornflour (Maizena)
- 500 g cooked and peeled frozen prawns
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Oil to shallow fry
- Add all the spices and chillies to a large pot along with the bay leaves and vinegar. Place over medium heat and simmer gently.
- Separate the onion rings and add them to the pickling liquid. Cook for 20 minutes, allowing the flavours to marry and the onions to cook until soft and translucent.
- While the pickle is cooking, prepare the prawns and dry with a paper towel.
- Dust the prawns with cornflour and coat them well. Carefully place just enough prawns in the oil and fry for two minutes or until the cornflour forms a crust and just begins to brown.
- Turn over and cook the other side for another two minutes. Remove from the oil and place on absorbent kitchen paper.
- Repeat this process with the remaining prawns. At this point, the onions and pickle should be ready.
- Add a little of the pickling liquid to the cornflour in a separate bowl and mix.
- Add this to the pickling liquid to thicken it slightly, which will help it coat the battered prawns, then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the prawns to the pickle and gently fold through to combine.
- Scoop into a large serving dish and allow to cool before serving. Add more spices to your taste.