Curried Prawns with Vegetables

This tasty dish is found in many Chinese restaurants and is a fine offering when prepared properly. Unfortunately, when overcooked prawns are served with over-thickened curry sauce, the result is an unappealing starchy blob. Curried dishes are not typical of Chinese cookery, so when we do make them, a good cook takes care that they are done correctly.

Here is a version that I am sure you will find quite delicious. The secret is to salt the prawns and then coat them with a protective batter of egg white and cornflour. This procedure protects the prawns from the hot oil, keeping them moist and juicy inside. These extra steps will ensure a delectable dish.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) raw king or tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 480 ml (16 fl oz) groundnut oil or water (see variations)
  • tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder or paste
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese Chicken Stock or water
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions, to garnish

Method

Sprinkle the prawns with 1 tablespoon of salt and soak in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain well and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Mix together thoroughly the prawns, egg white, cornflour, 1 teaspoon of salt, the sesame oil and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Let sit, refrigerated, for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and then pour in the groundnut oil. When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately dump in the prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn white, in about 2 minutes, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the oil.

Reheat the wok or heat a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the tablespoons groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the onion, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then toss in the green pepper along with the rice wine, curry powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Stir-fry the mixture for 1 minute. Return the prawns to the wok, add the stock and stir gently for 1 minute to warm the prawns. Stir in the sesame oil.

Turn onto a platter, garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.

Variation

If you choose to use water instead of oil, bring it to the boil in a saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn white, in about 2 minutes, quickly drain them in a stainless steel colander set in a bowl. Discard the water.

Other vegetables could be substituted for the green pepper: mangetouts, peas, asparagus, sugar snap peas, onions or spring onions.

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