I haven’t been to Thailand (yet) so this little treat isn’t based on anything authentic, but it was inspired by the “Thai Street Food” menu at a little restaurant I like to frequent. For me, at least, it seems like the kind of thing one might find on the street near a Thai beach resort. Thai-Style Prawns make a great snack or appetizer.
For this to work, you really need the largest prawns you can get. Typically, you’ll find them with the heads still on and they’re often 6-8 inches long (5-6 inches long without the heads). I use the term prawns for this dish mainly because the giant crustaceans I like to use are sold as such. There is a difference between prawns and shrimp (prawns are typically larger, have an extra set of claws on the legs and usually come from fresh water) but it’s minor. You may find them as jumbo shrimp or giant shrimp. Whatever.
If you can’t find Thai chillies, use what you can find or a little chilli paste. You may also find it easier to find lemon grass paste instead of fresh lemon grass. That’s fine as well.
I’ve tried this recipe on shrimp/prawns that were peeled and deveined rather than split in the shells and it’s simply not as good. The shells add flavor to the dish as it cooks and they also help hold the marinade against the flesh of the prawns as they cook. It does make a difference.
- 12-16 jumbo prawns
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 fresh Thai chilli, halved, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp. finely minced lemon grass
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- Combine shallot, garlic, chili, ginger, lemon grass and cilantro in a large bowl, add the olive oil along with lime
- juice and half the lime zest. Whisk for a minute to blend well. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- With a sharp knive, split the prawns lengthwise, leaving the shells on.
- Toss the prawn halves in the marinade and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Dump the prawns and the marinade into a hot wok or other large heavy pan and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until the
- prawns are opaque and the shells have turned pink.
- Garnish with reserved lime zest.