Love them or loathe them, prawn crackers have gained cult-like status as a modern day party snack food, but are often surrounded by questions and controversy. Humanity has long wrestled with the morality of eating animals, and so when it comes to prawn crackers, it’s no different – are they vegetarian? Read on to uncover the truth about these much-loved snacks.
1. What are Prawn Crackers?
Prawn Crackers are among some of the most popular types of snacks in Asia. Categorized as a type of deep-fried cracker, it is typically made with tapioca starch and shrimp. Prawn crackers have the taste, smell and texture of crispy shrimp, and have been a popular snack for many centuries in East Asian countries.
These crackers are commonly found in East Asian supermarkets and even in some western grocers. Colors, shapes and sizes vary depending on the region, but all share a unique taste and crunchy texture. Amongst some of the most popular varieties include pillow-shaped ones, zigzag-type and square ones.
Prawn crackers are often eaten as a side-dish with meals. They are also used to give texture and flavor to salads, soups and various other dishes.
2. Are Prawn Crackers Vegetarian?
Many people are curious whether or not prawn crackers are vegetarian or vegan-friendly. After all, the name implies that prawns are involved, but is that really the case?
The ingredients of prawn crackers can vary from brand to brand, so it’s best to check the packaging for more information. Generally speaking, prawn crackers contain shrimp-flavoured seasoning, wheat flour, tapioca starch and flavourings. Therefore, most of them are suitable for vegetarians. However, some brands don’t specify whether or not they contain “real prawns”, so if you want to be certain there are no animal products, avoid these.
On the other hand, prawn crackers are not vegan-friendly as they contain animal products and / or by-products. Most of them contain animal fats or a combination of egg and milk proteins.
One surefire way to identify whether prawn crackers are vegetarian or vegan-friendly is to look for a V or a VG symbol. These symbols mean the product is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, respectively.
3. The Composition of Prawn Crackers
Prawn crackers are composed mostly of carbohydrate and seafood flavoring, with a few additional ingredients for enhancing the flavor and color. What really stands out about these snacks, however, is their crunchy, light texture.
The main ingredient used in the making of prawn crackers is tapioca flour. It provides the light, crispy shell that makes these crackers so popular. To further enhance the flavor, a selection of aromatic herbs, such as star anise, garlic, and ginger, as well as chili and pepper, are added. The healthy delicacy is then sprinkled with powdered shrimp, adding a savoriness that pairs perfectly with beer or other alcoholic drinks.
- Tapioca flour : the main source of crunchy texture
- Herbs : to give it flavor and aroma
- Powdered shrimp : to add a savory flavor
4. The Health Benefits of Eating Prawn Crackers
Prawn crackers are a type of snack that is often enjoyed in South East Asia. But these addictive snacks, besides being a delicious treat, can offer several health benefits. Here are some of them:
- Low in Calories: Prawn crackers have very few calories – about 50 calories per 1 ounce serving – so you can snack without having to worry about your calorie intake.
- Contains B Vitamins: Prawn crackers contain ample amounts of thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. All four of these B vitamins are vital for a healthy metabolism.
Besides benefiting your metabolism, the B vitamins found in prawn crackers can help your body to battle stress, fatigue and depression. Also, eight essential minerals – like zinc, phosphorous and selenium – can be found in prawn crackers. These minerals are necessary for healthy bones and energy levels.
5. What are the Alternatives to Eating Prawn Crackers?
At home or on the go, prawn crackers are a classic snack but involves consuming deep-fried, highly processed carbohydrates. Here are some healthier alternatives to prawn crackers that you can snack on without worry:
- Air-popped popcorn: Keep it simple and classic with light, air-popped popcorn. You can add seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper!
- Veggie chips: Look for veggie chips made with sweet potato and cassava flour. Try adding sea salt and nutritional yeast for added flavour.
- Raw nuts: Skip the roasted, salted nuts, and opt for raw nuts for a snack that’s high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats!
- Homemade Protein Balls: Whip up a batch to have on hand for when snack-time rolls around. This is a great way to add protein and healthy fats to your diet.
You don’t need to give up the crunchy and delicious snacks all together, just opt for healthier alternatives instead, and make sure you’re keeping your portions in check if you’re eating something processed.
6. The Ethical Aspects of Eating Prawn Crackers
When it comes to eating prawn crackers, there are many ethical considerations that need to be taken into account. To begin with, we must ensure that the ingredients used to make prawn crackers are ethically-sourced, and that none of the ingredients have been produced in a manner that is cruel or detrimental to the environment.
In addition, we must always respect the rights of suppliers within the supply chain. This means paying them a fair wage for their work, and treating them with fairness and respect. As well, we must remember that the production of prawn cracker ingredients often involves animal products, which implies certain ethical considerations, such as the humane treatment of animals, or reducing the environmental impact of production.
- Ensure the ingredients used to make prawn crackers are ethically-sourced.
- Respect the rights of suppliers in the supply chain.
- Ensure humane treatment of animals.
- Reduce the environmental impact of production.
7. Prawn Cracker Recipes
Prawn crackers are a deliciously crunchy snack that make an ideal accompaniment to many dishes. If you’d like to make your own, there are plenty of tasty recipes to try.
- Spicy Prawn Crackers – These are perfect for adding a bit of kick to your meal. Simply mix prawn cracker mix with a teaspoon of chilli powder, a pinch of oregano and some paprika, then fry in vegetable oil.
- Salt & Pepper Prawn Crackers – This classic combination never fails to impress. Simply mix a cup of prawn cracker mix with two teaspoons of salt, a teaspoon of ground pepper and a teaspoon of vegetable oil, then fry until crispy.
- Sweet and Sour Prawn Crackers – A tasty way to dress up prawn crackers. Combine prawn cracker mix with some honey, a tablespoon of spicy mustard, a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Fry in vegetable oil until golden.
Why not experiment and make your own delicious ? They’re so easy to make that you can add any flavourings you like for a truly unique result.
8. Global Cuisines that Include Prawn Crackers
With its mix of flavours, textures and lightness, prawn crackers are beloved snacks in many cuisines around the world. From China to Indonesia and beyond, take a trip around the globe for a seafood treat!
- Chinese Cuisine: In Chinese cuisine, prawn crackers are undeniably a favourite. Thin and crunchy, these crackers usually come flavoured with good doses of garlic, pepper and sometimes even shrimp powder.
- Indonesian Cuisine: Indonesian-style prawn crackers have a thicker and puffier texture compared to the Chinese version. Often served with a crunchy peanut sauce, these crackers will give a sweet, slightly spicy kick to any meal.
- Thai Cuisine: The classic accompaniment to many Thai dishes, Thai prawn crackers are usually flavoured with a mixture of garlic, pepper and shredded lemongrass. Add a sprinkle of fish sauce for extra umami goodness.
From experienced chefs to home-cooks, it’s possible to get creative with how you use prawn crackers in the kitchen. Be sure to explore all the different styles, you won’t regret it!
9. The Environmental Impact of Eating Prawn Crackers
Prawn Crackers: Not Great For the Environment
At first glance, a bag of prawn crackers seems like a harmless, innocent snack, but unfortunately they come with a large environmental cost. Like many food products, most prawn crackers are mass-produced from shrimp caught in local waterways and typically come packaged in non-biodegradable materials.
Beyond the dire impact on the local marine life and ecosystems, the production of prawn crackers has a vast array of environmental implications. It requires an increased garbage output from both packaging and from the discarded shells of the shrimp. In addition, fuel is expended on catching and transporting the shrimp, and the prawn crackers themselves. Not to mention, extremely large quantities of oil are needed to produce the required amount to keep up with the demand.
Ultimately, when it comes to our environment, the consequences of eating prawn crackers go far beyond what you can see through the artificial orange-coloured coating:
- Depletion of natural resources
- Impact on local marine ecosystems
- Pollution via gas and non-biodegradable materials
It’s important to remember that many of our everyday food choices have consequences, and it’s up to us to be mindful of the choices we make.
10. Uncovering the Truth about Prawn Crackers
Have you ever looked at a packet of prawn crackers and questioned their prawn-iness? You’re not alone – it’s a well-known puzzle. But what are these treats really made of?
Let’s take a closer look:
- Higher than expected levels of fat. Contrary to popular believe, prawn crackers are rarely made with real seafood. They are usually made from potato flour, vegetable oil and a combination of seafood-inspired spices.
- Savoury flavouring. To give the crackers their prawn-like flavour, MSG (monosodium glutamate) is added. It has a strong ‘umami’ taste.
These ubiquitous snacks may not be the culinary treat they once pretended to be, but they do have an undeniable appeal. Some things are better left unknown.
Prawn crackers may not be the most conventional snack, but it’s clear that they can be enjoyed by vegetarians without any qualms. Whether you’re a meat-lover, vegetarian, or somewhere in-between, there’s no doubt that the delicious crunch of prawn crackers makes a tasty addition to any snack time.
Hi, my name is Luke Mitchell and I am a travel blogger based in Brisbane, Australia. I am the owner and creator of Arfra.org, the best blog about everything related to traveling in Australia. I have always had a passion for exploring new places and cultures and I decided to turn that passion into a career. I started Arfra.org to share my experiences and help others plan their own adventures in Australia.
I have traveled extensively throughout Australia and have a wealth of knowledge and tips to share. From the rugged outback to the beautiful beaches, I have been there and done that. I am also always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in the travel industry, so my readers can always expect to find the latest information on everything from hotels and resorts to tours and activities.
In my blog, I cover a wide range of topics including budget travel, luxury travel, family travel, and solo travel. I also share information on the best places to eat, drink, and shop, as well as the best outdoor activities and attractions.
When I am not traveling, you can find me in Brisbane where I call home. I love the city’s laid-back atmosphere and the great food and coffee scene. I also enjoy spending time with my friends and family, and taking my dog for long walks along the river.