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Friday, December 3, 2010

Chargrilled Lemon Grass Prawns with Vietnamese Salad

I won this cookbook about 4 years ago and have flipped through it many a time drooling at all the glossy pages. I love to try new recipes which is probably my downfall because I try something once and if it doesn’t look like the picture or taste amazing I don’t try it again. What I should do is cook it twice and try to right my wrongs the second time around rather than giving up. So not to be tainted by my recent Death by Slow Cooker episode I got back in the kitchen and made this deliciously fresh and vibrant Chargrilled Lemon Grass Prawns with Vietnamese Salad.

Yes it involved using a mortar and pestle (if you haven’t tried it you’ll feel like an iron chef once you do!). Once the prawns were peeled and marinating in the fridge and the salad cut up ready, we had an hour to kick back and enjoy a wine and some spring rolls to whet the appetite. When ready cook the prawns, toss the dressing through the salad and serve with prawns on top and a wedge of lime. Save the rest of the lime (and some of that mint) for a Mojito as it would be a shame to have those two ingredients together and not make a cocktail afterwards like I did!

Chargrilled Lemon Grass Prawns with Vietnamese Salad
(Blue Ginger Cookbook by Les Huynh)

Serves 4 as Starter/2 as Main

2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 lemon grass stems (white part only), finely chopped
4 tbs peanut oil
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
12 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined

2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 long red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tbs caster sugar
3 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs rice vinegar

225 g (3 cups) shredded white cabbage
90g (1 cup) finely julienned carrots
1 lebanese (short) cucumber, thinly sliced into long ribbons
2 large handfuls Vietnamese mint leaves
2 large handfuls coriander leaves
80g (1/2 cup) finely sliced onion
4 tbs roughly chopped roasted peanuts
2 tbs fried shallots

To serve
Llime halves

To make the marinade, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, lemon grass and a pinch of salt into a paste. Work in the rest of the ingredients and pinch of white pepper. Scoop the dressing into a non-metallic bowl with the prawns. Coat the prawns well, then marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Remove the prawns from the marinade. Heat a char-grill pan or bbq hotplate over medium-high heat, then cook the prawns for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked.

To make the dressing, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic and chilli together. Work in the sugar, then stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons water, pounding until the sugar dissolves.

To make the salad, gently toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss with enough of the dressing to moisten the salad.

To serve, divide the salad among plates, then sit half the prawns on top. Drizzle a little more of the dressing over the prawns. Add a lime half on the side.

PS: If you don’t have a m&p you can chop all of the ingredients into a paste using a small food processor
PPS: This is a really punchy salad dressing very limey so if you want it a bit softer use less lime juice. The fresh mint and coriander make a beautiful aroma and really lift the salad and make it something special
PPPS: It says to leave the prawn head and tail on but I didn’t do this, there’s nothing worse than getting shell in your mouth if you ask me!
PPPPS: If making this for a main I'd suggest 6-10 prawns per person is much more satisfying.


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