Thursday 10 February 2011

Ch ch ch ch ch changes, Chinese New Year and Cereal prawns

Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. ~ Robert C. Gallagher

Happy belated Chinese New Year!  Kung Hei Fat Choi! Welcome to the year of the Rabbit.

I don't know what my horoscope is supposed to be for this year but it's definitely a year of Change with a capital C.

I've tried on many different hats in my time: pharmacy, research science, and most recently, lawyer.  But deep down, all along I've wanted to be a doctor.  I just missed out when I applied straight out of high school waaaaay back in '02 and that blow made me bury those dreams for a long time.

Now, I've been given another chance.  At the ripe old age of 26, I am uprooting my life, moving away from my loved ones, my friends, even my fiance to go to med school in a completely different city on a completely different island: Dunedin.

It has been an agonising decision...can I do it? Move away from everything I know and everyone I love to live in a place I've never even visited.  I'm excited and exhilarated but at the same time terrified and sad.  The hardest thing is knowing I'm leaving my Mum all on her own and be living away from C just when we are about to get married.

But at the end of the day the question was - is it worth it?

And it is.

Nothing worth having is ever easy and it's facing your fears and challenging yourself by doing things out of your comfort zone that shapes you as a person.

So this Chinese New Year, I am saying au revoir to the life I know to follow my dreams and to celebrate I tried a brand new super yummy Malaysian dish: Cereal Prawns.

The cereal in this dish is oatmeal.  Oatmeal in a seafood dish you ask??  Yes, it does sound odd I know, but somehow it just works.  The oatmeal gives a crispy crumbly crunchiness like a dry sauce (think bacon bits) and a very subtle sweetness that is done so well in Malaysian cuisine.  Sometimes, when done right, sweet in a savoury dish works really well.  Think satay sauce and honey soy marinade. 

The prawns are shallow fried till so crispy and delicious you can even eat the shells!  And the smell of the prawns frying off is simply mouth watering.

Curry leaves permeate the whole dish with a fragrant curry flavour and if you're into spicy, chopped chillis gives a good kick of heat.

We first had cereal prawns at a Malaysian restaurant in Epsom (which I might add does an amazing fish head soup - call me Asian but fish head soup is so not as scary and sooo much yummier than it sounds) and I've been dying to reproduce it ever since.

As per the hundreds of recipes I looked up, I used instant cereal sachets in this dish, i.e. the 3-in-1 oatmeal ones you get from Asian grocery stores.  These are already sweetened so depending on the sweetness of the particular brand you use and your own tastes, you'll have to adjust the seasoning.

However, unlike the Malaysian restaurant's rendition, my oatmeal clumped and became crunchy nuggets of oatmeal goodness rather than a light crispy sprinkling covering the prawns.  Tweaking is definitely needed but it was still so good I can't wait to make this again! Yum!

Malaysian Cereal Prawns

500g raw prawns, deveined and with the sharp bits on the head snipped off

2 Tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
dash of white pepper

4 Tbsp butter
leaves off 2 sprigs of curry leaves
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 chilli finely chopped (optional) I left this out since Mum doesn't do spicy food.
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten (some recipes call for mashed salted egg yolks - which I bought and then completely forgot to use!)

4 packets 3-in-1 instant cereal mix (from Asian grocery stores)
5 Tbsp rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken bullion granules

1. Pat the prawns dry and mix through the cornflour, 1/2 tsp salt and dash of pepper to coat the prawns evenly. Shallow fry the prawns in a wok with about half an inch of oil (or deep fry if you are lucky enough to have a deep fryer) until pink and crispy. Set aside and wash the wok out and dry.

2. Heat the wok to high.  Melt the butter.  Fry off the curry leaves, then garlic, chilli and egg yolks until fragrant.

3. Add the cereal and oats, salt and chicken granules and stir fry till golden (This is where it mix totally clumped up for me!).  Taste and season to your taste.

4. Add the prawns and stir fry briefly to mix through.  Serve immediately while piping hot.  Go caveman with this dish - get in there with your fingers, eat the shells and enjoy.

And last bit of very exciting news, I have been awarded my very first blogger award: the Stylish Blogger award!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhh so exciting!!!!  I've never been awarded one before so bear with me while I bumble my way around the rules.  I will try not to do a cringe speech a la Natalie "he totally wants to sleep with me" Portman.

The instructions are:

1) Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2) Share 7 things about yourself
3) Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4) Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

1) First of all thank you so so so so much to Becs of Stiletto Studio who gave this award to me. Merci beaucoup!!  It was totally unexpected and so sweet of you. I am so humbled and shocked and stoked - Thanks!

2) Hmmm 7 things about myself...I'm not sure I have 7 interesting things to say about myself but I'll give it a go...

i) I am terrified of spiders.  I am very embarrassing to be around if I see a spider - I screech and flap my arms like a madwoman.

ii) I chew in my sleep.  I think it's because I'm always dreaming of eating.  

iii) I ate ice cream for lunch all this week.  It's just been so hot and muggy and I've been so stressed about moving and wedding and everything and ice cream cures all.    

iv) I always get sayings wrong - like "that's no skin off my teeth", or get them muddled up and use them in the wrong context.  I blame it on having English as a second language (even though I've lived in New Zealand for 21 years - I will still claim ESOL).

v) Speaking of ESOL, I can read more French than I can Chinese.  Even though I am Chinese and was born in Hong Kong. And I can speak more French than I can Mandarin.  Kinda hilarious.

vi) My guilty pleasure is watching Holly's World and Kendra on the E! channel.  I used to love Girls of the Playboy Mansion and I was very sad when Holly and Hef broke up. 

vii) I hate feet.  They are gross.

3) And now to award this to 15 other blogger.  Easy peasey there are so many amazing blogs out there!

1) Katie of Katie Maree Cole - because not only is she an amazingly talented fashion designer and the most stylish person I know, she is also an inspiringly brave and tough wee chicky.

2) Paula of pod and three peas - coz her posts are always so much fun to read!

3) Pierre of little hungry heart - coz he is a fellow medical student slash food blogger and his blog is a great new find.

4) Linno of Linno-Yum - because her blog is oh so styley and she is so super lovely.

5) Mel of treehousekitchen for her cool meaningful quotes at the beginning of every post and for surviving a big move all the while blogging deliciousness.

6) Mark of Mark meets world because his travel posts are so interesting to read - go on I dare you to write a book!

7) Kristy of Paisley Jade because she makes amazing things with crochet.

8) Donna of Kite Ride because I love her stylish stationary creations.

9) Peggy of My Fiance! likes it, so it must be good - for her beautiful photos and hilarious posts.

10) Meg from Tea Pea because her blog and shop are so cute and I LOVE the bakers twine that I bought off her.

11) Lora of Diary of a Mad Hausfrau because I love her quirky cheeky posts and yummy recipes.

12) Teresa of taf - her photos are so so cool.

13) Joudie of Mood Food coz I love her concept - cooking and food are so definitely mood related.

14) Ananda of A Pinch of Love - coz her blog is just so purty.

15) April of Rhubarb and Rose because I love her whimsical photos and recipes.



  1. Oh thank you soooo much! Drooling at your prawns too!! xoxo

  2. Congratulations! both for getting into Med School and for the blogging award.
    PS. I made your olive oil choc chip cookies the other day. My batter was a bit runny for some reason but end result was still yummo. I also made a layer cake for my hubby's birthday. You are just too inspiring!! ;o)

  3. Nessie thank you so much for the award! And I am so happy for you and your quest to med school! Remember that it will be all worth it in the end!

  4. You are the sweetest ever! While going through my google reader at work, I saw the pic of the prawns and immediately starred it to look at when I got home.. not even seeing the end of your post! Then not too long after that, I got the comment you left for me. Thank you so much for the award! You are so sweet. And congrats on med school.. you did it! :)

  5. Hi Nessie, Saw this pic on tastespotting and just had to come look. Made me crave it straight away (I'm Malaysian). :) Good luck with your doctor studies adn everything else!

  6. Wow, changes afoot indeed! All the best as you move down... it's a good place, I spent 4 years there without regret. :) I think it's great you are taking this step... follow your bliss, as they say!

  7. Hi Nissie, congrats for getting in med school and good luck with studying, i'm sure you will be colourful and like you said no pain no gain! Thanks a lot for the award, glad to receive it am craving seeing the prawn curry leaves flavours are awesome! :D

  8. Yay thanks for the shout-out Nessie! And yay for you too! Med School woop woop! I randomly moved down south last year (Auckland to Timaru of all places), and I am 30mumble and still have no idea what to do with my life/career. But I think it's super awesome that you are following your heart. You can't go wrong. You are really brave and are going to have a cool adventure no matter what. Btw nice kai, and I hate feet too, esp men's feet. Eww.

  9. Hi Nessie, Thanks heaps for the award! Sorry I've been away on a rural med attachment. Heard you are doing medicine in Otago too now? I hope you are enjoyin it greatly. I might see you around one day. I do recommend you to come up to Welli for the clinical years, cos... it's such an awesome city!



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