"Here's another dish which is really very simple and one I particularly like to order at Mit Ko Yuan. Hot-and-sour salads like this are at the heart of Thai cuisine and you can balance the chilli and lime juice to suit your own taste. Here, the prawns are the star. They use gorgeously fresh char-grilled king prawns for this salad, serving them in their charred shells. I notice they deliberately undercook them; they're what I'd call ‘rare'. I love them this way; the flesh is butter-soft and ridiculously sweet but this approach only works with super-fresh prawns. If you like your prawns like this too, then cook them for about a minute on each side, making sure you've got your grill very, very hot so you still get that charred, smoky flavour. If you're dubious about underdone prawns, remember that they go into a lime-heavy dressing and the acid keeps cooking them, even once they're off the heat." ~Luke Nguyen.
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) raw king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined, heads and tails intact
1 Tbs Thai roasted red chilli paste (see glossary)
1 handful coriander (cilantro) sprigs, torn
1 handful mint leaves
1 handful Thai basil leaves
4 makrut (kaffir lime) leaves, finely sliced
4 cm (1½ in) lemongrass stalk, white part only, very finely sliced
4 red Asian shallots, finely sliced
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs fish sauce
3 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs Thai roasted red chilli paste
3–5 bird's eye chillies, sliced
Put the prawns in a mixing bowl, add the chilli paste and stir to coat them well. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Heat a char-grill pan or barbecue char-grill to medium–high. Cook the prawns for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.
Add the char-grilled prawns to a mixing bowl with the coriander, mint, Thai basil, makrut leaves, lemongrass, shallots and dressing. Toss together well, transfer to a plate and serve.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Street Food Asia by Luke Nguyen published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $60 and is available in stores nationally.
Photo Credits: © Alan Benson.