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How to Butterfly Prawns

How to Butterfly Prawns

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This is a simple step-by-step tutorial for making butterflied prawns (both partial and full butterfly effect)

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Butterflied prawns (shrimps in US) are aesthetically beautiful, cook fast and very thoroughly cleaned. I didn’t have good results during early attempts to butterfly them. Usually the prawn curled up too much after cooking. After some trial and error, I found the best way that works for me every time.

Butterflied Prawns Tutorial (Step-by-Step Pics)
Click on photo to view full-size image

Step 1: Snip and discard sharp edges

How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns

from left to right: (1) using kitchen scissors, snip off the antenna and sharp edges (rostum) of the prawns. I usually go one step further and cut the first half section of the prawns head as I do not want the eyes in my presentation of the dish. You may also remove the entire head if preferred.

Using kitchen scissors, snip and discard the (2) front legs, (3) swimming legs and (4) the sharp ends of the tail.

Step 2: Remove black veins

How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns

from left to right:

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, (1) make a top slit across the back of the prawns, (2) all the way to the end of the tail. (3) Discard the black veins.

How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns

Many people neglected the head of the prawns when removing the black veins.

from left to right:

(1) make a top slit across the head, (2) discard any dirty bits and rinse the prepared prawn clean.

(3) If you want to be very thorough about de-veining, there is usually also a smaller one hidden at the underside of the prawn. You don’t want to make any more cuts there though as you may accidentally halve the prawn. So after locating the vein, make a tiny incision and use a toothpick to pry it out.

Step 3: Partial butterflied prawns

How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns

from left to right:

(1) Partially butterfly the prawns by cutting a little deeper to make a cavity. Be careful not to cut too deep or you may end up halving the prawns instead.

(2) to (3): With the half butterflied prawns effect, you can squeeze more prawns in the plate. You can simply drizzle Chinese wine onto the cavity of the prawns, steam for a few minutes and serve. It’s also useful for putting small stuffing such as minced garlic, with the filling peeking out from the cavity.

Step 4: Full butterflied prawns

How to Butterfly Prawns  How to Butterfly Prawns  Butterflied Prawn Tutorial

from left to right:

(1) Full butterflied prawns – After making the cavity (see first pic at above row), hold down the prawn flat in the chopping board. Gently use your fingers to spread out and flatten the body of the prawn.

(2) to (3): Full butterflied prawns are very ideal for very large or jumbo-sized prawns and when the topping is the main star of the dish. Cooking time is reduced though they take up more space in the dish. The final dish usually look very gourmet in its presentation.

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