Stir-fried Vegetables in Prawn Sauce

Prawn sauce, or shrimp paste, is widely used in Thai cookery. Its distinctive aroma derives from the fermenting process by which salted shrimp meat is transformed into a rich, pungent paste. Used in proper proportions, there is nothing at all unpleasant about it and it certainly adds a new dimension to vegetables, as in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 225 g (8 oz) broccoli
  • 225 g (8 oz) asparagus
  • 225 g (8 oz) beansprouts
  • 225 g (8 oz) fresh or tinned baby corn
  • 1½ tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 small fresh red Thai chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
  • 1½ tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Garnish

  • handful fresh coriander sprigs

Method

Separate the broccoli florets. Peel the stems and thinly slice on the diagonal. Boil in salted water for 3 minutes.

Drain thoroughly. Cut the asparagus into 4 cm (1½ in) pieces. Pick over the beansprouts and trim any yellow bits.

Blanch the broccoli, asparagus and corn in a large pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and plunge them into cold water to stop them from cooking.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic, shallots, chillies and shrimp paste and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli, asparagus and corn and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Now add the fish sauce and water and continue to stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes. Finally, add the oyster sauce, sugar, salt and beansprouts. Continue cooking for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.

Turn the vegetables onto a platter, garnish with the fresh coriander sprigs and serve at once.