Hong Kong is undoubtedly one of the world’s great food cities, with a breathtaking array of dishes and places you can eat them. It’s a city loved by Archan Chan, who grew up there before moving to Australia to start her cooking career. She became head chef of Melbourne’s now-closed (mainly) Cantonese eatery Ricky and Pinky in 2016 for restaurateur Andrew McConnell, and before that worked at his other venues, Cutler & Co, Golden Fields and Supernormal. (She know works at Singapore’s Level 33).
“You’ll find something incredible to eat in Hong Kong at any time of the day,” writes Chan in her recently launched cookbook Hong Kong Local. “And there is something for every type of diner – from humble, traditional breakfasts like congee; or quick and satisfying noodles for lunch from one of the many small local shops; to trendy streetside treats like bubble tea and egg waffles; and feasts of roast means and the highest of high-end Michelin-starred dining experiences the world has to offer.”
Along with 70 recipes, the book includes photography of life in Hong Kong, and the restaurants, people and dishes that sustain it. It’s divided into four categories – early, mid, late and basics – with this prawn toast recipe sitting alongside other crowd-pleasing, party snacks people love to enjoy late at night.
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“The secret weapon in this recipe,” writes Chan, “is the combination of roughly and finely chopped prawns (shrimp) for extra texture.”
Archan Chan’s Prawn Toast
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
4 slices white bread, crusts removed, each cut into 4 triangles
50g (⅓ cup) white sesame seeds
500ml (2 cups) canola oil (or other cooking oil)
Thinly sliced spring (green) onion, to garnish mayonnaise or tomato ketchup, to serve
200g peeled, deveined prawns
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tspn fine sea salt
1 tspn caster (superfine) sugar
Small pinch of ground white pepper
1 tspn grated garlic
1 tspn grated ginger
1/2 egg white
To make the prawn mixture, toss the prawns with 1 tablespoon cornflour, then rinse in cool water and pat dry with paper towel. Roughly chop the prawn meat, divide in half and very finely chop half of it. Place the prawn meat into a bowl, sprinkle the salt over the top and mix until the prawn mixture becomes elastic. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Spread 2 teaspoons of the prawn mixture over each bread triangle. Make sure you spread it all the way to the edges and form a smooth, even surface. Dip the bread, prawn side down, into the sesame seeds to coat
Pour the oil into a wok or a small saucepan (it should be about one-third full) and heat to 180C (350F) or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds. Reduce the heat to low. Working in batches, add the toasts, prawn side down, and cook for 1 minute.
Turn them over and cook for a further 15–30 seconds until the toast is golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack or paper towel. Serve hot garnished with spring onion and with mayonnaise or ketchup on the side.
This is a recipe extract from Hong Kong Local by Archan Chan, published by Smith Street Books, $39.99. With photography by Alana Dimou and food styling by Bridget Wald. Buy a copy here.
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