HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure
TELL US

honey-walnut prawns: anyone know their origins?

tatamagouche Aug 22, 2008 11:21 AM

Wondering how this guilty pleasure came to be. A quick Google search merely points to its bastardization.

  1. KaimukiMan Aug 22, 2008 01:49 PM

    not an authoritative answer, but people in Honolulu talk about it coming out of HongKong about 7-10 years ago.

    5 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan
      tatamagouche Aug 22, 2008 04:13 PM

      Hmm. Well, I know I saw it in for the first time in Boston's Chinatown at least 7 years ago. Can anyone else remember their first sighting?

      1. re: tatamagouche
        e
        Erika L Aug 22, 2008 04:31 PM

        My first time...was some time in the last ten years, at a big, noisy, sprawling all-hands family banquet some place in the Bay Area. That and the Peking Duck made dealing with my family worthwhile.

        1. re: tatamagouche
          Miss Needle Aug 22, 2008 04:59 PM

          My first sighting was at Jing Fong in NYC 9-10 years ago at a banquet. I was complaining to one of my friends from Macau about this horrid concoction when she told me that they're popular in Hong Kong.

          1. re: tatamagouche
            s
            Six_of_One Aug 22, 2008 05:05 PM

            I had it at a place in LA's Chinatown around 12-13 years ago.

            1. re: tatamagouche
              s
              stanbee Jan 14, 2011 03:00 PM

              San Francisco, Outer Geary, 1993. The owner of the restaurant said it was an actual Hong Kong dish when questioned about mayo sauce on a Chinese dish.

          2. Sarah Aug 22, 2008 05:27 PM

            It was about 10 years ago. We ordered it w/o realizing that the Hong Kong sauce was in fact mayonnaise...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sarah
              tatamagouche Aug 23, 2008 05:55 AM

              So, it seems as though that it may possibly have originated in Hong Kong. What might that imply about its invention? Any HK natives or experts out there who can fathom who the audience was for this dish?

            2. t
              twinsmum Aug 26, 2008 12:55 AM

              i live in Hong Kong at the moment (for nearly 2 years now ) and not once have seen those in any restaurant - more than that - have never seen walnuts used in cooking here at all - dont think chinese use them - sorry everything - not so sure it is a Hong Kong thing!

              1 Reply
              1. re: twinsmum
                tatamagouche Aug 26, 2008 08:04 AM

                Huh. Well, Googling the phrase plus "Hong Kong" does yield plenty of results...maybe it was a trend that passed there, but not here in the US?

              2. raytamsgv Aug 26, 2008 05:03 PM

                My guess would be it came from Hong Kong. The Chinese name of the dish can be translated as "Western-sauce honey (wal)nut shrimp." I seem to recall first eating it between 15-20 years ago in Los Angeles. I have seen the dish in Hong Kong, too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: raytamsgv
                  t
                  twinsmum Aug 26, 2008 10:49 PM

                  will keep an eye out for these next time i am in restaurants in this case - sounds so good.

                2. m
                  ML8000 Aug 27, 2008 12:00 AM

                  It's an HK invention that made it's way to the U.S. when a lot of chefs came over in the early-mid 90s, probably marginally related to the '97 HK change over to China. Like most of these trends coming that way, landed on the West Coast first and then NYC. One sign it happened this way is it showed up first at banquets, i.e., high to low trickle down.

                  1. s
                    smalt Aug 27, 2008 09:14 AM

                    anyone remember the "crystal shrimp" or "glass shrimp"? i always wondered if the honey walnut prawns was springboarded from that. "bo lai ha" - which is probably phonetically wrong because i (shame on me) don't hear the intonations or pronunciations well....that used to be a banquet dish in the pnw.....the shrimp were marinated in something that made them somewhat translucent. never see that dish any more, every once in awhile i run into a recipe for it.....

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: smalt
                      m
                      ML8000 Aug 27, 2008 10:02 AM

                      Drunken shrimp? Live shrimp put in alcohol of some kind (sherry?) and after they die they're fried.

                      1. re: ML8000
                        s
                        smalt Aug 27, 2008 10:08 AM

                        i don't think so...i want to say they were soaked in lye, but that's probably not right....my second guess would be cornstarch, but that would provide a gummier texture....

                        the shrimp i remember were not crunchy-fried, but perhaps a quick saute after the marinade.

                    2. K K Jan 14, 2011 03:24 PM

                      This Taiwanese blogger had walnut prawn at a restaurant in Hong Kong (Kowloon side to be exact in Harbor City), with a bed of broccoli.

                      http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/yu-shuo/ar...

                      1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 14, 2011 09:18 PM

                        I believe it is from Hong Kong.

                        Show Hidden Posts