Stir-fry Leeks with Prawns

During Chinese New Year, Chinese leeks are plentiful as they are in demand for their auspicious symbolism of prosperity. Leeks in Chinese (่’œ) sounds like “counting” (็ฎ—), representing one’s wish to “count” lots of money in the new year. For me, I simply love to cook leeks during this period as they are fresher, cheaper and in abundance. This stir-fry leeks with prawns is made with my favourite red-leg prawns (shrimps).

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Straight from the wok. Everything (leeks and shrimps) tastes really fresh and clean in this simple stir-fry.

How to prepare Chinese leeks before cooking

I apply these simple steps of preparation every time I cook Chinese leeks.


Trim the bottom roots and the top withered portions of the leaves. Give the leeks a general rinse under the tap. The above picture is the “after”.


Give the leeks a second thorough rinse, taking care especially at the crevices of the leaves (pictured above) as there is always soil & dirt trapped there.


Separate the bottom white part (pictured above; left) from the green upper portion. Cut the leeks at a slant angle to uniform short sections (about 1-inch/5 cm). The white part needs to enter the wok first as they take slightly longer to cook than the leafy green portion.

Stir-fry Leeks with Prawns Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 400g Chinese leeks (่’œ)
  • 10 medium prawns peeled & deveined; about 100g after prep
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 thin slices ginger minced
  • 1 tbsp Chinese wine
  • 3 tbsp water add more if the stir-fry is too dry

(A) Marinade

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 dashes white pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp Chinese wine (Shaoxing/Hua Diao)

(B) Seasonings

  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp mushroom seasoning powder if not using, substitute with 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • small pinch of salt to taste
  • 2 dashes white pepper

Directions:

  1. Marinade prawns with (A) for half hour in the fridge.
  2. Prepare the leeks. Trim and discard the bottom roots and any withered leaves. Clean the leeks by washing each stalk carefully, particularly inside the crevices of the top outer leaves which trap soil. Cut the leeks at a slant angle to uniform short sections, separating the top green portion from the bottom white portion.
  3. Cook the prawns. Heat 1 tsp oil in wok. Pan fry the prawns on one side, turn them over with a spatula to cook on the other side. When the prawns are done, set them aside on a plate.
  4. Make the stir-fry. Heat remaining oil in the same wok. Add garlic and ginger; fry briskly until fragrant. Add bottom white portion of the leeks. Stir fry until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the leeks, seasonings (B) & water. Drizzle Chinese wine along the sides of the wok. Stir fry until the leeks are cooked. Return the cooked prawns back to the wok, giving everything a quick stir fry before serving.