Crispy Cereal Prawns (麦片虾 Mai Pian Xia) is commonly served at the ubiquitous Zi Char stalls around Singapore, is a hawker favourite among many Singaporeans including our family.

Crispy Cereal Prawns (麦片虾 Mai Pian Xia)

Who doesn't love Crispy Cereal Butter Prawns! Juicy king prawns fried with butter, crispy cereal, curry leaves and chilli padi. This sweet and spicy dish will definitely delight your tastebuds, so try it yourself! 

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese, Fusion, Singaporean
Keyword cereal prawn, cereal butter prawn, mai pian xia
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 172 kcal
Author Bee Leng | The Burning Kitchen


  • 12 Large Prawns Red Legged Prawns (Ang Kar Hay)
  • 100 g Nestum Cereal
  • 21/2 -3 TBsp Icing Sugar
  • 2 TBsp Milk Powder
  • 3 TBsp Plain flour
  • 1/2 Egg
  • 500 ml Oil For deep frying
  • 8 stalks Curry leaves
  • 3 Chilli Padi
  • 60 g Butter

Marinade for Prawns

  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar



  1. Wash the prawns leaving the shell intact.
  2. Slit the back of the prawns with scissors to remove the guts. Then use a knife to cut a deeper slit to butterfly the prawns. See my step-by-step video tutorial on How to Clean and Prepare Prawns.

  3. Dry the prawns with kitchen towel and marinate with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of sugar for about 15-20 mins while preparing other ingredients.

  4. Wash the stalks of curry leaves and pat dry before removing from the stalk. Use your fingers to run through the stalk to remove the leaves and set aside.

  5. Cut the chilli into small pieces.
  6. Mix the nestum cereal, sugar and milk powder in a bowl.
  7. Add the beaten egg and plain flour to the prawns and gently mix to coat the prawns with flour. More flour can be added if need be.


  1. Pour the oil in the wok over high heat.
  2. Add prawns in small batches to deep fry till golden brown about 2mins, turning them over until they curl up like a U shape. Place the prawns on a plate with kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.

  3. Pour the oil into a bowl. Turn the heat to low before adding in the butter tothe wok.

  4. Add curry leaves and chilli and fry till the curry leaves are crisp.
  5. Add in the nestum mixture and fry over low heat for about 2-3 mins until the sugar dissolves and the nestum cereal is golden brown and crispy.

  6. Put the prawns back into the wok and gently stir fry the prawns until they are well coated with the cereal mixture.
  7. Plate the prawns and serve hot.

Recipe Video

Top Tips


  1. Buy the "Ang Kar" ( Red Legged Prawns ). as they meat is sweeter and crunchier.


  1. Refer to this video tutorial to see how I devein prawns with shell on.
  2. Do not over-cooked the prawns. Otherwise, they will be tough and dry. 
  3. The oil must be hot before adding in the prawns to seal up the juices.
  4. Be gentle when handling the prawns, whether washing or frying. Otherwise, the heads will fall off and they will mar the presentation of the dish.
  5. Remember to lower the heat first before adding butter to the wok, as butter gets burnt easily, so will the curry leaves and cereal. The cereal gets burnt with seconds, so need to watch closely when frying the cereal.


As I mentioned before in my Prawn Noodle Soup recipe, its simple to tell if a shelled prawn is cooked. When you start to cook the prawn, it will start to curl up.

You can tell the level of doneness from the shape of the curl :- C' shape is not quite cooked, 'O' shape - overcooked,  'U' shape - just right!


  1. See my video on How to Pack and Store Prawns if you want to store your extra prawns for later use. 
  2. More butter and curry leaves can be added if that is your preference.
  3. Reduce the amount of sugar if you are using castor sugar. Icing sugar is not as sweet as castor sugar.
  4. If you do not have milk powder, it can be omitted. The addition of full cream milk powder makes the dish more fragrant and flavourful but it does not taste like milk powder after frying.