Although Thai dishes are characteristically elegant and complex, there are many that are surprisingly simple, as in this recipe. Here is a quick and easy treat that relies upon one of my favourite Thai dipping sauces – nam prik pla: fish sauce, chillies, lime juice and sugar. Although it contains red chillies, this dipping sauce, unlike the red curry sauce, enlivens but does not challenge the distinctive taste of the prawns.
Peel the prawns and discard the shells. Using a small sharp knife, remove the fine digestive cord. Wash the prawns in cold water, rinse well and pat dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle fish sauce over the prawns, mix well and marinate for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
Remove the prawns from their marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper. Flour the prawns, shaking off any excess.
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or a large wok until it is hot. Deep-fry the prawns, a few at a time, for 3 minutes, until golden and crispy. If the oil gets too hot, turn the heat down slightly. Drain well on kitchen paper and serve immediately with the spicy sauce.
© 2001 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.