After the last couple of meat dishes for inaugural week, I was looking forward to making today’s seafood recipe – Ginger and Scotch Chilli Prawns.
I have a few friends and a mother-in-law who aren’t keen on seafood at all. Having grown up eating seafood all my life, I can’t imagine a world without it. In fact, I love seafood so much that when recently asked what I would request as my last meal on earth, my answer was, “Lobsters and raw oysters.” Accompanied by champagne, please.
I like my lobsters very simple – no butter, just steamed or boiled, and dipped in a lemon-pepper sauce. Scotch used to be a lobster-in-butter person but I have since converted him over to the lemon-pepper side. It just brings out the flavors so much better than butter (and it’s healthier).
As for the raw oysters, I like them all (fleshy, delicate, briny, sweet) – my favorites are the Kumamotos – small, but they pack quite a punch. A squeeze of lemon is all I need on my oysters – no vinaigrette, no shallots, no tabasco, no nothin’.
Since moving to Dubai though, I have developed an aversion to Fin de Claires and Gillardeaus. These two types of oysters are considered to be some of the best in the world but I simply can’t eat them anymore because I have OD’d on them. Too much of a good thing, I guess. It seems like 99.9% of oysters that are served at restaurants in Dubai and 100% that are sold in markets are Fin de Claires and Gillardeaus. The world is your oyster people! But it’s bigger than just France!
Besides lobsters and oysters, I also love scallops, crabs (especially soft-shelled ones), raw sea urchin, sashimi (chu-toro and salmon are my faves), mussels, clams, snails, conch, squid, octopus, whelks, jelly fish – okay, you get the picture.
And prawns! I just love shrimps. What’s the difference between a prawn and a shrimp, you ask? I use them interchangeably but apparently they are not the same. According to buzzle.com:
Prawns and shrimps bear semblance to each other in terms of appearance and taste, however, biologically they are not the same creatures.
The primary visual differentiating factor between the shrimp and prawn is the gill structure. Prawns feature lamellar gills, which are plate-like in structure. On the other hand, shrimps have branching gills.
Examination of second abdominal segment is the easiest and most practical way of differentiating between shrimps and prawns. In case of shrimps, the second segment overlaps the first and third segment, whereas, in case of prawn, the second segment only overlaps the third segment.
So I hope that was as interesting for you as it was for me. I just love seafood trivia.
For today’s recipe, I deshelled the prawns (saving the shells for making stock) but left the heads on. The prawn heads impart a ton of flavor to the sauce and I love to suck the juice out the heads (go on, make jokes) after they are cooked. But if you are like Scotch and can’t stand them in your cooking, feel free to leave them out.
I was afraid that Wee Scotch would find the dish too spicy but he ate five prawns all by himself!
- 450 grams (1 lb) head-on prawns, deshelled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water
- 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch segments
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tb Scotch whisky (or Shaoxing wine or vodka)
- 2 tablespoons water
- In a shallow dish or resealable bag, combine marinade ingredients and add the prawns. Marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring once (or flip bag).
- Remove prawns from marinade (do not discard!) and set aside. Add the cornstarch-water mixture to the reserved marinade.
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until oil starts to smoke. Add the aromatics (ginger, garlic, and chilli) and stir around the pan for 30 seconds.
- Toss in the prawns and stir occasionally for 3 minutes.
- Add scallions and stir for another 2 minutes or until prawns are completely cooked. Lower the heat to medium-low.
- Give the reserved marinade a good stir until the cornstarch has been incorporated. Add this mixture to the saute pan and mix well with the prawns for 30 seconds until sauce is slightly thickened.
- Serve over a bed of plain white rice and a side of vegetables.