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Although a prawn roll is primarily a part of Australian cuisine, it is not exclusive to that area of the world, and styles vary depending on the location. The most common forms of prawn roll appetizers are served either cold or deep fried, but there are several variations of this in terms of seasonings, batter or wrapping, and dipping sauce. Prawns are often confused with shrimp due to the multitude of similarities between these two crustaceans, but the main difference is usually the size. Most prawns are significantly larger than shrimp, and they have different types of gills as well as other minor differences.
In Australia, it is common to serve a prawn roll as a cold miniature sandwich on a cocktail bun. These recipes generally require that the prawns are washed, deveined, cooked, and have their tail removed. Cooking methods may vary but once the cooking is completed, the prawns are added to a mixture that usually includes vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, dill, and other seasonings. People can use their own favorite spices and vinegars, and olive oil can be omitted. Many people also add lettuce, tomato, and onion to their rolls in order to improve the taste.
A fried prawn roll is often made by wrapping cooked prawns in a spring roll pastry shell or a batter mix made from flour, cornstarch, and egg. The spring roll wrap is the most common form of this deep fried delicacy and, although the prawn is cleaned, deveined, and cooked, the tail is usually left intact. Most people roll the prawns in the pastry with the tails exposed before dropping them into hot grease and frying the rolls until golden brown. After frying is complete, the excess grease is usually patted dry with a napkin or paper towel, and the prawn roll is served with a side of dipping sauce. Dipping sauce will vary depending on the cook and the patron, but the most common sauces include cocktail sauce, spring roll sauce, or plum sauce.
There are many additional ingredients that could be added to a prawn roll, including chili, mangoes, fried onions, cabbage, minced garlic, and other various meats. Some people purchase these rolls frozen from a grocery store or a manufacturer on the Internet. Prawns are not sold everywhere, and some people choose to substitute shrimp or scallops in the roll depending on the type of seafood that the local grocer carries.