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Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns

Cereal butter prawns with crispy oatmeal topping to substitute for Nestum cereal. This prawns dish is a Chinese New Year favorite.

When I was still living in Indonesia, there is always a big family gathering from my husband’s side of the family for the big Chinese New Year Eve dinner feast, and cereal butter prawns is a dish that appears every year without fail. Since Chinese New Year is coming up, I am recreating this beloved family dish with what I can find easily in the United States using oatmeals.

Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns
Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns

Crispy oatmeal topping, definitely not soggy!

In Asia, if you want to make the cereal portion of this dish, you start by buying Nestum cereal. If you try really hard, you may spot Nestum cereal in some random supermarket in the United States. But let’s just say it is not something easy to find compared to oatmeals, which leads me to creating this recipe.

First things first, don’t just simply substitute nestum cereal with oatmeals. It is not going to be delicious since you end up with soggy toppings! But after a bit of tinkering, I am proud to say that this version of oatmeals topping works!

It’s crispy and most definitely not soggy. If you need some cereal butter prawns in your life and there is no Nestum cereal around, this recipe is definitely going to make you very happy. Plus, oatmeals are way healthier than Nestum cereal. :D

Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns
Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns

Let's bake up some crispy oatmeal topping

The trick to create this crispy oatmeal topping is by baking. You will need:

  • 1 cup of old fashioned oatmeals,
  • mix with 3 tablespoon of melted butter, and
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.

Spread evenly in a baking sheet (I use a half-sheet pan), and bake in preheated oven of 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes, stirring half way. Once it has finished baking, remove the oatmeals from the oven and set aside to cool, then add:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder

Stir so everything is evenly mixed. And we have our lovely and delicious crispy oatmeal topping.

This topping is so good I have to stop myself from “testing”. I could have finished the whole thing myself and won’t have any left to make the cereal butter prawns! Next time, bake two batches, and eat one batch as snack. Incidentally, these are great with yogurt and ice cream too! 😍

Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns
Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns

Curry leaves

The next key ingredient for making cereal butter prawns is some fresh curry leaves. This is not something you find easily in your regular grocery store. Even my regular Asian market doesn’t have this since it mainly sells East and Southeast Asian ingredients. I had to visit a Middle Eastern/Indian market to find some fresh curry leaves. I notice that Amazon has some fresh curry leaves, so I guess there is always that option if you want to give it a try. Once you have everything, you are good to go. Here is a really zoomed-in shot to admire the crispy oatmeal topping. :D

Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns
Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns

Oatmeal Cereal Butter Prawns

5.0 from 12 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Total Time: 35 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • Crispy oatmeal topping
  • 1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (not quick cook)
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • Deep fried prawns
  • 450 gram (1 lb. / about 2 dozens) deveined prawns (*)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoon cornstarch
  • enough oil for deep frying
  • Other
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon fresh curry leaves (about a dozen leaves)
  • 1-2 red bird eye chilies, seeded and thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Mix together oatmeals with melted butter and brown sugar. Spread evenly on a baking sheet (I use a half-sheet pan), and bake for 10 minutes, stirring half way. Once cool enough, mix with salt and milk powder. Set aside.
  2. Mix together prawns with lime juice and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes. Then add in egg and corn starch, mix well.
  3. Heat a pot of oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot (180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit if you want to be specific), deep fry the prawns for 30 seconds, or just until the prawns turn pink. Drain over wire rack to remove excess oil.
  4. Heat butter over medium heat in a wok/frying pan until foamy. Add curry leaves and chilies, fry until the leaves look crispy.
  5. Reduce heat to medium low. Add the oatmeal topping, mix well. Add the deep fried prawns, stir to coat.
  6. Remove from heat immediately. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.


  • (*) Basically no head, cut away the feet, trim the tail part a bit, slice top and bottom through the shell and remove the yucky black stuff.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Lily Waldman Lily Waldman says:

    Hi, I remember this dish! I had it when I lived in Indonesia. It was delicious. I love trying your recipes. They are delicious! Thank you for sharing. I am going to try to make this with tofu. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for the compliment Lily. With tofu, I think I would simply cut them into cubes, I typically cut 1 lb. block into 12 cubes, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dust with cornstarch (or all-purpose flour), and pan fry until golden brown. You can follow the rest of the recipe with these fried tofu cubes instead of fried prawns. :)

  • Aimee Mars Aimee Mars says:

    This dish is absolutely fascinating and looks delicious! I love learning about new cuisines from other cultures and this is one I can't wait to make and share with my family.

  • Romina Romina says:

    This looks delicious!

  • Sara Sara says:

    This was so delicious and different! I love the way the oatmeal was crunchy - it went perfect with the shrimp. So much flavor.

  • Kelly Anthony Kelly Anthony says:

    I've never seen anything like this before. I love shrimp and trying new foods so I'm excited to try your oatmeal cereal butter prawns.

  • Lisa Huff Lisa Huff says:

    Wow would never have thought about putting shrimp and oats together. Genius!!

  • Natalie Natalie says:

    Oh wow.. this sounds and looks absolutely delicious. Look at that crunchy crust on that prawns!!! Oh my... I have to make this asap. I already saved the recipe. Can't wait to give this a try.

  • Sara Welch Sara Welch says:

    I have never heard of this recipe before, but it looks so unique and tasty, you've inspired me to give it a try! Delish!

  • Tammy Tammy says:

    Really creative thinking here! These look so good! I love the crispy coating but the sweetness from the cereal must play into this dish well.

  • Andrea Metlika Andrea Metlika says:

    These prawns look fabulous. I've never tried anything like this before but I am so ready to.

  • Yvonne Yan Yvonne Yan says:

    What can I substitute for milk powder?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Yvonne, you can substitute milk powder with coffee creamer or malted milk powder. Of the two, I would suggest malted milk powder if you can, such as those from Carnation, King Arthur, or Horlicks.

  • Ecarg Ecarg says:

    Can you replace curry leaves with baby spinach?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Curry leaves are herbs, and we use is to impart flavor to the dish. If you don't have curry leaves, you can try replacing with kaffir lime leaves. The flavor profile will be different from curry leaves, but the dish will still be delicious.

  • Cathleen Cathleen says:

    Hi, I do have Nestum, do I just use that in place of oatmeal and mix Nestum with butter/sugar/salt/milk powder? Thank you!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Cathleen, if you start with Nestum, you will need 1 cup Nestum and 1 teaspoon salt for the topping. Your step 1 is simply stir together Nestum and salt. The rest of the steps remains the same.

  • Eleanor Eleanor says:

    Hi is there a lactose-free alternative to the milk powder? If not is it possible to just skip that ingredient? How will it affect the taste?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Eleanor, you can skip the milk powder if you are lactose intolerant. It will fell less creamy, sort of like using oil to replace butter in baked goods, but the dish should still be quite yummy.

  • Gim Gim says:

    Do we have to cook with skin/shell on?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Whenever I have this in Chinese restaurants, the shrimps are always with shell on, so that's what I do when I cook it at home too. I guess if you prefer, you can also remove the shell first before cooking the shrimps. :)

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