There are several versions of this dish but this is one of the simplest. Easy to cook and great for keeping guests happy while you make the rest of the meal. Some recipes suggest dry-frying the peppercorns before crushing but I don’t think it’s really necessary.
Peel away most of the shell from the prawns but leave the last segment and the tail attached. (This not only looks pretty but makes the prawns easier to hold when you eat them with your fingers.) Remove the dark vein running down the back.
Combine the Sichuan pepper and sea salt, and pound to a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee grinder.
Heat half the oil in a medium-sized, non-stick frying pan. Add the garlic slices and sizzle over medium-high heat for a minute or two. As soon as the garlic starts to turn pale golden, scoop it out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan. When it is shimmering hot, toss in the prawns and fry for 2–3 minutes, turning with tongs, until they are evenly pink and cooked through.
Tip the prawns into a warm serving bowl and sprinkle with the salt and pepper mixture and the garlic.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.