Hed Chef: Curry prawns
It pays to get to the wet market early because you get the freshest produce, and you get to take your pick of the best.
Which was what I experienced one Saturday when I managed to get to the market at 6.30am and procure a batch of fine-looking larger-than-usual angka prawns.
To get the best, I do not suggest inconsiderate behaviour like prodding every prawn. My method is simple.
If the head is firmly in place and the prawn looks appealing, I'll take my chances and go for it.
Finicky customers from the prodding school of thought may disagree with my less-than-thorough method, but I have often found that when you treat stallholders and their offerings with respect, they are more than happy to help you select the best of what they are selling.
Back to the recipe for curry prawns, to which I added Thai basil leaves.
This was a tip I picked up from a colleague's wife who is an excellent cook.
The Thai basil leaves lend their unique aromatic fragrance to the dish.
Shallots in the spice mixture help to thicken the gravy, such that I find it unnecessary to use coconut milk.
You don't have to use too much oil to fry the spice mixture either.
- Six large prawns (500g)
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 250ml water
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- ¼ tsp salt
- 20g Thai basil leaves
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, use 5cm of the white root part
- 2 buah keras (candlenuts)
- 30g dried chillies
- 2 red finger chillies
- 40g shallots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 10g galangal
- 15g ginger
- 10g fresh turmeric
- 1 turmeric leaf
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tsp belacan powder
1. Clean the prawns. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, snip off the front part of the head, including the feelers, eyes, rostrum (the spiky beak) and the front legs. Set aside in the fridge.
2. Place ingredients for the spice paste in a grinder and grind into a paste. If using a blender, add a little water to help the blades turn smoothly.
3. Heat the cooking oil in a wok, and over low heat, fry the spice paste for 10 minutes.
4. Add the water and let it come to a boil.
5. Season with fish sauce.
6. Add the prawns and simmer for 8 minutes or until cooked through.
7. Season with salt.
8. Garnish with Thai basil leaves.
9. Serve hot.