Sichuan Prawns

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Serves: 2
  • Level: easy

‘…If you have your own tips for for Sichuan prawns we want to know. Send us a note so Dad can try it out!’

Pete
'So good. Dad's been cooking prawns his whole life, but Ken Hom's Sichuan style prawns have been more than an inspiration...'

What you need

For the prawns

1 kilo uncooked prawn in their shells

 

For the stock

1 shallot chopped finely

2 tbs Shaoxing wine

 

For the sauce

5 cm piece of fresh ginger peeled (keep peelings)

1 bunch spring onions sliced finely – use most of the green tops – separate the white and green parts.

1 clove garlic shopped finely

1 tbs tomato paste

2 tsp chilli bean paste

1 tsp sugar

 

To finish

Sesame oil

Chopped chives to garnish



Dad's Recipe Tales

I really like Ken Hom

But how did I become so dependent? As much as I like him, I’d like to talk about Chinese food without talking Ken Hom – but how can anybody do this if they are like me and needed instruction on how to cook Chinese food in the UK during the 80’s and 90’s – there was no one else but Ken. But then maybe his audience only included me and a few others – I’m not aware of many other people who pursued Chinese culinary competence as I did.

I suspect the reason is that having bought our wok’s and suffered the continual disappointments, we realised that stir frying was just a big con. There are only so many times you can keep cooking burnt, soggy, over-cooked, under cooked stir-fried messes, before the wok gets thrown out the door.

But I knew what the problem was: Woks do not work on normal stoves. Chinese restaurants use very hot burners (50,000 – 250,000 BTU compared to about 6,000 BTU for a domestic burner).

Still, I am reassured that the vast majority of Chinese households do not have such high heat burners – so there must have been a workaround… I persevered through the years – and many failures – and finally found a workable strategy for my kitchen and equipment. See my tip for more info.

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Peel the prawns leaving the tail on the prawn. Use a small sharp knife and cut the back ridge of the prawn and pull out the intestine.
  2. Put the prawn shells and heads in a small saucepan with the ginger peelings and the shallot and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes – strain and reduce by half. Add the Shaoxing wine and reduce again.
  3. In a wok add a little ground nut oil – a couple teaspoons. Stir-fry the ginger and the whites of the spring onion. Add the garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the sauce ingredients and continue to fry for another minute or two. Then add in 80 ml of the stock and continue to cook on high heat for 3-5 minutes. Decant the sauce into a bowl.
  5. Clean the wok heat to a high temperature and add 2 tsp of groundnut oil.
  6. Add the prawns and stir fry until they are almost cooked through. Add the sauce and cook for another minute stirring. Thin the sauce with a little stock if necessary.
  7. Taste and check seasoning, finish with a drizzle of sesame oil.
  8. Serve with chives as a garnish.

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