Tapioca flour is commonly used to make prawn crackers. They are naturally gluten and grain-free because they do not contain wheat flour. Shrimp chips or prawn crackers are a popular gluten-free snack due to their crispy texture and natural seafood sweetness. Prawn crackers are traditionally made from a combination of dried shrimp and tapioca flour. The mixture is ground to a fine powder before being combined with water to form dough. The dough is then pressed into thin sheets, cut into individual crackers, and dried. These dried crackers are packaged and sold for individual consumers to deep-fry.
These crackers, made entirely from scratch, are more like the lovely crackers you can get in good Thai restaurants than the white, bland prawn crackers that have almost no flavor at all. Here are the steps to make spiced prawn crackers from scratch:
- Place the prawns in a food processor and pulse briefly until they form a paste. Except for the water, add the remaining dough ingredients and pulse for a minute or so, until you have a very fine sandy texture.
- Add about 50ml water and pulse until you get a thick dough, adding more water if necessary: the dough will start to come together to form a ball after a few moments of pulsing. You want a dough that is soft but not sticky, and that holds its shape rather than falling apart.
- Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead for a few seconds, or until smooth. Form into a large cylinder.
- Tightly wrap the dough cylinder in cling film. Still wrapped in cling film, steam for an hour before cooling and chilling overnight. As it cools, the cooked dough will firm up to the consistency of soft plastic. It will also change color, becoming slightly darker than before it was steamed. If you prefer, you can freeze some of the dough.
- Cut the dough into thin slices, about 1-2mm thick.
- Dehydrate the slices in a dehydrator set to 60°C for 4-5 hours, or until completely dry; alternatively, place them on baking trays lined with parchment paper and place in a 50°C oven (fan oven).
- Once dry, store the spiced prawn discs in an airtight container until ready to deep-fry. Heat the oil to 190°C and drop several at a time into the hot oil for about 1 minute, or until puffed up, giving them a turn halfway through.
- Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with your favorite dip.
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