This is an appetizing, spicy, tangy and umami-filled seafood dish with delicious Thai flavours. I used tom yum paste for today's prawns and accentuated the flavours with some fresh lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Tom yum paste or rather most spice pastes can be so versatile and this is a great way to use it other than in the usual tom yum soup which is of course no less delicious. Apart from prawns, you can use the paste as marinade for chicken nuggets, fish or as a stir-fry sauce for rice or noodles - endless possibilities. I like to cook my prawns shell-on, to me they just taste better that way but feel free to use shelled prawns/ shrimp and if you do that, you can skip the shallow-frying part as well. I suggest to shallow-fry the prawns before cooking with the paste and the rest of the ingredients for a crispier texture.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | Labels: Quick meals, Seafood Recipes, Spicy, Thai, thai recipes |
You can either make the tom yum paste from scratch like what I did here or just find a good store-bought version. I think it is totally fine to use store-bought pastes when the lack of time calls for it and since I almost always feel the need to doctor up my pastes, I have not really have bad experiences with any store-bought pastes I've used except for probably once or twice. Those were not really bad per se, but I had to add so many ingredients of my own as the pastes were too bland that I felt I was cooking from scratch so I guess those pastes were totally disposable :O.
I am very excited this week as I will be seeing some friends I have not seen in years, all thanks to the wonders of the internet, well Facebook to be exact. The nicest thing about seeing 'long-lost' friends is that I don't feel any discomfort or awkwardness despite the years in between, we just pick up where we leave off and that's the beauty of friendship, I think.
Serving suggestion: with steamed rice
16 medium sized prawns, shell on (use shelled prawns if you prefer and skip the shallow-frying step)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, white parts smashed and cut into 3 inch lengths (approximate measurement)
Handful of fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn to release fragrance
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons tom yum paste (the paste I used was very flavourful and I did not have to add additional seasoning at all but use fish sauce if you need to)
3 tablespoons of water or more if the dish looks too dry
Firstly, butterfly the prawns lightly by trimming off the legs, the eyes, the hard tip on top of the head and make a slit across the back of the prawn. Repeat with the rest of the prawns and place prawns in a dish. Lightly sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and marinade the prawns with the salt. Set aside.
Prepare a hot wok or pan with enough oil for shallow frying of the prawns. Fry the prawns until the shell on both sides turn lightly whitish and reddish. This should take about 1 minute. Remove from wok and place in a separate dish. If your wok or pan is a little too small to fit all the prawns together, fry in batches to avoid overcrowding. Overcrowding will usually result in non-crispy fried food.
Next, wash the pan or wok well. Dry and return to the stove. Heat your wok until almost smoking. Add about 3 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat. Turn heat to low and add garlic, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Fry until aromatic. Add the paste. Add a little bit more oil if it looks dry. Once you can smell the aroma of the tom yum paste, add in the prawns. Stir-fry well to coat. Add about 1 tablespoon of water. Only add the rest if needed.
Do a taste test. If required, add some fish sauce for savouriness and if you find the sauce too salty, apart from adding a bit more water (another 2 tablespoons), you can add a squirt of fresh lime juice to tone down the saltiness.
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