30 medium-sized raw prawns
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons palm sugar or brown sugar
4 spring onions (scallions), sliced diagonally
4 fresh red chillies
2 teaspoons finely chopped galangal
1 teaspoon Thai pepper-coriander paste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon rice flour
salt to taste
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
or lime rind
sliced red chillies for garnish
Shell prawns, but leave tail segment intact. Carefully devein and use a sharp knife to slit each prawn lengthways from the top, for about a third of its length. Place in a bowl and mix in ginger, fish sauce, sugar and spring onions. Marinate for 10 minutes.
Split chillies and discard seeds for less heat. Purée in a blender with galangal, lemon grass, onion and pepper-and-coriander paste, scraping down sides of blender as necessary.
Heat oil in a wok or frying pan, add paste mixture and stir-fry until fragrant. Add prawns with their marinade and cook, turning constantly for about 3 minutes or until they change colour. Remove pan from heat.
Mix coconut milk with rice flour and heat in a small saucepan, stirring as it comes to the boil and thickens. Add salt to taste and pour immediately into the centre of a serving plate or bowl. Place prawns on sauce and sprinkle with thread-fine strips of kaffir lime leaves or rind and fresh chilli.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)