Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Prawns

Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Prawns recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Chinese New Year dishes are as delicious as they are auspicious and symbolic. Long noodles for longevity. Whole fish, with head and tail, for a good beginning and ending to the New Year. The sweet and layered Nian Gao 糕 (Chinese New Year cake) for a sweet, rich year, with layers of growing abundance. Whole chicken for family togetherness. Chinese gold ingot shaped wontons for a year of wealth.

Just as the appearance and ingredients of a Chinese New Year dish have a special meaning attached, so does the sound of the Chinese word for it. In Penang, where we speak a mix of Chinese dialects (Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, and more), these play on words and sounds are extracted from multiple languages, as is the case with a dish I just cooked up - Pineapple Prawns

fresh pineapples at asian market

Pineapple is pronounced as ‘Ong Lai’ in the Chinese dialect of Hokkien. The same sound of ‘Ong Lai’ is used when a Hokkien reads the two Chinese characters that mean prosperity will come. Therefore, to a Hokkien, a pineapple represents prosperity . In Cantonese, prawn (shrimp) is pronounced as ‘Har’, which is homophonous with the word ‘laughter’ . So for Cantonese, prawns represent happiness.

Put it together and you have not only a delicious and festive dish, but one that will make you prosperous and happy in the New Year!

Sweet & Spicy Pineapple shrimp chinese new year recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Cooked Malaysian-Chinese style, the Pineapple Prawn dish combines fresh pineapple with garlic, ginger and red chili pepper to complement the fragrant pan-fried prawns.  A vibrant flavor of sweet, spicy, garlicky seafood goodness, with a squeeze of calamansi lime to top it off. A Chinese New Year dish in the tropics.

Enjoy a sizzling hot plate of Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Prawns  that promises you lots of laughter (‘siu har har’ 笑哈哈), prosperity & a happy belly!

buy spices and herbs at season with spice shop

Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Prawns recipe by Season with Spice

12 medium-sized prawns - cleaned, deveined and trimmed
4 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 tbsp ginger - minced
1/3 cup fresh pineapples - diced
Half a serrano red chili - seeded and minced
Fresh cilantro or Chinese parsley - for garnish

2 tbsp plum sauce or chili sauce*
Juice of one calamansi lime (or substitute with a normal lime wedge)
1-2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water (for thickening the sauce)
Salt and white pepper to taste

1. Heat up 2 tbsp oil and then pan-fry the prawns until just cooked. Set aside.
2. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in the same pan, and sauté ginger and garlic until aromatic. Add in the pineapple and red chili, and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant.  Then toss in the cooked prawns and mix evenly with the sauce.
3. Add seasoning and stir-fry over high heat for half a minute. Dish out, and garnish with some cilantro leaves or Chinese parsley. Serve warm with rice.

* For a sweeter version, use plum sauce. For a spicier version, use chili sauce (I recommend Lingham Chili Sauce, which actually originated in Penang).