October 6, 2004
Recipe: Hot pepper prawns
Hello, my dear readers. It is time for another recipe. This time it's a quick n' easy prawn recipe - Hot Pepper Prawns. Heck, anything with prawns is quick n' easy because prawns cook so fast. It's a real pity that some of our Indian restaurants simmer them till the cows come home, sucking out the life from the delicate creatures.
Oh alright, they've technically already had the life sucked out of them before they go into the pot, but you know what I'm talking about.
This dish is simple in its flavours. There is no combination of multiple complex flavours like one of my Thai or Malay curries. Yet, sometimes a simple dish is what you need. All this dish needs to go along is some simple fried rice (just stir-fry yesterday's leftover rice with some ginger, garlic, spring onions, eggs, and salt.) and perhaps a stir-fried vegetable dish. You can make all that in under 30 minutes.
If you get medium to large prawns, this dish should take very little time. There isn't even much chopping to do. The hardest part is to devein the prawns, and I've written an entire article devoted to that topic. Don't be put off by the amount of pepper in the dish. Sure, it makes the dish decidedly peppery, but you can't have hot pepper prawns minus the pepper, can you?
Here's a preview of what it will look like:
(I've got a little more sauce than usual)
What you need
Medium Prawns (shell removed and deveined) - 150 gm
Butter - 1-2 tbsp
Black pepper, freshly ground (coarse) - 2-3 tsp
Garlic - minced - 2 tsp
Thai bird chillies - finely sliced - 1 tsp (omit this if you can't take the heat)
Light soy sauce - 2 tsp
Dark soy sauce - 2 tsp
Oyster sauce - 1 tbsp
Chicken stock or water - 2 tbsp
How to make it
Heat a wok till it's medium hot. (Very hot will burn the butter, so be careful.)
Add the butter and wait till it starts foaming. Then add the garlic, pepper and chillies. Stir-fry for about 10-20 seconds.
Add the prawns and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
Now add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chicken stock. Turn up the heat to high and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Let the sauces thicken but not burn.
Your prawns should be done. Check if the flesh is opaque. If in doubt, under-cook rather than overcook them.
Um, that's all there is to it. This is a 3-minute recipe. Enjoy it while it's hot.
This recipe can also be used with good effect for various other kinds of seafood. The only thing that varies is the cooking time and the amount of chicken stock. For small fish fillets, increase the cooking time by another 3 minutes or so. For squid, decrease it by about a minute. You can even use whole crab in this recipe, but increase the quantities of the seasonings to account for the larger crab. If you're feeling adventurous, try this with veggies. Increase the amount of water and the cooking time so the veggies cook through properly.
Butter burns easily and has to carefully controlled in the pan. If you're not sure you can do that, you can stir-fry in peanut oil and then add a bit of butter along with the prawns. Alternatively, start with a 50-50 mixture of peanut oil and butter in the pan. You can leave out the butter if you're weight-watching, but it adds a nice, rich flavour to the dish.
Please don't buy prawns that have been shelled and then frozen. They are usually tasteless. Only buy ones that are still in their shell. If you're spending money to buy expensive seafood, it should at least taste good. The larger the prawns, the easier they are to devein.
Yes, you need freshly cracked pepper for this dish. The readymade fine powdered stuff just won't do.
This recipe takes 3 minutes to make, so you can't possibly have an excuse for not making it. :)