Stir-Fried Prawns with Water Chestnuts

This was a favourite of our customers in the restaurant I worked in when I was young. It is easy to see why. Rich, tasty prawns are paired with crispy water chestnuts and sweet green peas. It really is a most appealing dish, light and delectable.

This recipe makes a good starter for any dinner party, or a delicious main course for a light meal, where it would go nicely with plain rice and a vegetable dish.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) raw prawns
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 225 g (8 oz) fresh or tinned (drained weight) water chestnuts
  • 175 g (6 oz) frozen small garden peas or petit pois
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) groundnut oil or water
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • tablespoons finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

For the Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions

Method

Peel the prawns and, if you are using large uncooked ones, cut them to remove the fine digestive cord. Wash them and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Combine the prawns with the egg white, cornflour, salt, sesame oil and pepper. Mix well and leave to sit in the fridge for 20 minutes. Peel the water chestnuts if fresh, or rinse if tinned, and slice. Put the peas in a small bowl and let them thaw.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and then add the oil. When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately add the prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn white (about 2 minutes), quickly drain them.

If you choose to use water instead of oil, bring it to a boil in a pan. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn white (about 2 minutes), quickly drain them.

Re-heat the wok or large frying-pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the 1 tablespoon of oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the onion and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then return the prawns to the wok, together with the water chestnuts, peas, Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir-fry the mixture for 3 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil. Turn on to a platter, garnish with spring onions and serve at once.

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