Fragrant Prawn Curry


This is a delightful stir-fry dish. I enjoyed it for the first time in Singapore some time ago. The aromatic lemon grass gives it a unique fragrance. Prawns have a distinct but delicate taste and the clean, mildly citrus touch of the lemon grass is a perfect counterpart. The quick cooking style of the wok ensures that the two main ingredients are at their best.

Use fresh lemon grass whenever possible – in a dish like this it is worth a detour to obtain it. If your search is fruitless, you may substitute 2 tablespoons of lemon zest.


  • 450 g (1 lb) raw prawns
  • Β½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stalk fresh lemon grass
  • 1 fresh red or green chilli
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 100 g (4 oz) onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon chilli bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • ΒΌ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Garnish

  • Fresh sprigs of coriander


Peel the prawns and discard the shells. Using a small sharp knife, remove the fine digestive cord. Wash the prawns in cold water with the salt, rinse well and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Remove the outer layer of the lemon grass until you get to the tender, whitish core. Chop the lemon grass core finely. Split the chilli in half and carefully remove and discard the seeds. Chop the chilli finely and combine it with the lemon grass.

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 onions, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and chilli and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the prawns and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Now add the rest of the ingredients and continue to stir-fry for 4 minutes or until the prawns are firm and cooked. Turn the mixture on to a warm serving platter, garnish with the coriander and serve at once.