Sometime last week I tried cooking with Sakura Prawns at home. Actually it was so easy to prepare, I am embarrassed to say it was cooking. All I did was steam the Sakura Prawns with a bunch of ingredients. :P
The day I had plans to prepare this, I was in a quick biz meeting with my associate and told him what I’d be cooking for dinner. (He’s quite an avid cook himself.) He looked at me with amusement written all over his face and asked, “How are you going to steam the prawns? They are so small!”
And I went, “Huh?!”…
I then realized he was referring to Sakura Ebi – the itsy bitsy freeze dried Japanese shrimps!!! *cue in laughter at our silliness*
No, no, I corrected him. Sakura Prawns aren’t the teeny weeny baby shrimpettes that he had in mind. Sakura Prawns are full-grown normal sized prawns!
THIS is Sakura Prawns.
Not to be mistaken with these!
I expressed how much I was looking forward to cooking with Sakura Prawns. So his next question to me was, what’s so special about Sakura Prawns? I told him:
Sakura Prawns are given probiotics in their feed that promote the growth of desirable gastrointestinal bacteria. Besides being completely free of harmful antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides; Sakura Prawns are grown using hygienic and sustainable aquaculture practices. Seawater is filtered and treated, then pumped into concrete and fiberglass tanks which not only maintains the integrity of the water quality, but also prevents ecological damage on the surrounding areas. Sakura Prawns are packed and sealed right at Oceanique’s farm in Penang, Malaysia, and delivered chilled to Singapore on a weekly basis. The recommended way to enjoy Sakura Prawns is to have them lightly steamed, so as to truly appreciate the sweetness and fresh quality of these premium products.
Taking a leaf out of my good friend Cuisine Paradise‘s “养身菜 (healthy herbal dish)” home-cooking volume, I recall she made a similar steamed prawns dish which I enjoyed tremendously so I wanted to recreate it at home for myself. I decided to keep it simple and added only a few ingredients to support the natural sweetness of the prawns. As seen above are the basic ingredients for my Steamed Sakura Prawns with Ginseng and Goji Berries. Namely: the prawns, a handful of goji berries, a sprinkling of dried ginseng roots, some ginger cut into matchsticks (and a fragrant bouquet of cilantro as garnish). I know when it comes to cilantro, people either love or hate it. I belong to the former camp and love the unique flavor it brings to brighten up seafood.
Here’s how simple it was to ‘cook’ these prawns. After rinsing the fresh Sakura Prawns, I arranged them on a plate along with the ingredients I mentioned above. Note that I left the shells and heads on, I think it’d retain the original sweet flavors more that way. For good measure, at the last minute I decided to add a bit of chopped garlic. I realized I didn’t add any seasoning, so I cracked some fresh black pepper all over this and sprinkled just a little bit of salt. (I actually have avoided cooking with salt for many years now; I dunno when this started – but it’s to offset all the salt that are present in food when I’m eating out, so at home I don’t use salt unless it’s absolutely necessary when cooking. When I do, I use a tiiiiinnnny small amount and that’s the way I like it.)
This dish was ready after about 10 minutes in the sauna. Kidding, I mean steamer. Whoaaa, the fragrance was intoxicating when I lifted up the steamer lid and a really sweet perfume of cooked Sakura Prawns with hints of earthy herbal-y ginseng aroma wafted into my nose. Hungry! Hungry!
What a beautiful and colorful this dish was! So simple to make, so pretty to look at. This dish hit all the three pillars in the Chinese paradigm of gastronomia: 色香味。
色 (se) = color, visual.
香 (xiang) = aroma, fragrance.
味 (wei) = flavor, taste.
As for the Sakura Prawns themselves – the hero in this dish – they were succulent, sweet and very fresh. I feel that the original flavor of the prawns came through like a superstar. This dish was a success!
Steamed Sakura Prawns with Ginseng and Goji Berries
250g Sakura Prawns
1 Tb Goji Berries
1 Tb Dried Ginseng Roots
1 Tb Fresh Ginger, matchsticks
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
4 Tb Water
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
1 Tb Cilantro, chopped as garnish (optional)
1. Rinse Sakura Prawns and arrange on plate.
2. Sprinkle and distribute all the other ingredients, except cilantro.
3. Steam for 10 minutes.
4. Serve with cilantro garnish.
This dish was really good, I’m definitely going to make it again and again.
Sakura Prawns – introduced in Singapore just in Dec 2012 – are free of antibiotics and hormones, and are grown with care using a proprietary Sakura feed from Japan that provides beneficial nutrients to the prawns. As a result, consumers will get to enjoy these premium fresh prawns which taste sweet and are also a safer choice for the whole family to enjoy. Already a household name in Singapore, the Sakura brand is highly regarded and trusted for its commitment towards organically-grown produce which has been fed with healthful probiotics to impart reared animals with improved resistance to disease and in turn, heightened food safety for consumers.
Sakura Prawns are exclusively available at selected NTUC FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra stores at the recommended retail price of $5.95 for a 250g packet.