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honey-walnut prawns: anyone know their origins?

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

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

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

            1. re: tatamagouche

              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. 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

              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. 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

                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. 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

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

                2. 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. 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

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

                      1. re: ML8000

                        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. 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. I believe it is from Hong Kong.