Hepo prawns in black pepper sauce

This mouthwatering hepo prawns in black pepper sauce is a signature dish in most of Batam's seafood restaurants. We tried one restaurant, Rezeki, and the food was marvellous. The succulent prawn's natural sweetness is complemented by the salty and spicy sauce resulting to a wonderful gastronomic delight. Batam Island is located in the Riau Province of Indonesia. It is a short ferry ride from Singapore, about half an hour, which makes it an ideal weekend getaway for the lion city's residents who want to to hie off from the hustle and bustle of Singapore. The surrounding waters of Batam is teeming with marine life and is a rich source of seafood, including hepo prawns.

What exactly are hepo prawns? Hepo prawns are crustaceans most commonly called slipper lobsters. They are not true lobsters, but are closely related to spiny lobsters or sea crayfish. They don't have claws and their bodies are flat like slippers. They are also smaller, about a third of the size of a regular lobster.

Hepo prawns can be prepared in many ways, steamed or sauteed in garlic and butter, for instance. The meat can also be used for chowder. But hepo prawns in black pepper sauce adds a new dimension to the flavor. The sweetness of the prawns is balanced with the saltiness, heat and umami flavor of the sauce.

Black pepper sauce is easy to prepare. Start by mixing soy sauce, oyster sauce, ground black pepper (coarsely ground, preferably), cornstarch, sugar and water in a small bowl. Heat oil in a pan in medium high heat and then add the mixture. Cook it until a thickened consistency. Add the hepo prawns and coat them with the sauce. 

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