Spicy Tamarind Tiger Prawns – Gkoong Yai Pad Som Makahm Bpiak
A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 2000 Kasma Loha-unchit.
- 1 lb. medium-size tiger prawns
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 2 large shallots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/8-inch thick
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 large dried red chillies, each cut into 2-3 pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 chopped jalapeno or serrano peppers (do not remove seeds)
- 1 Tbs. Sriracha hot chilli sauce
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. palm or coconut sugar
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup tamarind juice the thickness of fruit concentrate, to taste
- 1 1/2 to 2 Tbs. fish sauce, to taste
- Lettuce to line serving platter
- 1 green onion, white part only, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths, then split into thin matchstick-size slivers
- A few cilantro sprigs
Shell, devein and butterfly the prawns. Place in a bowl and add 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Mix well to dissolve salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Then drain off the grey water and rinse several times to remove all the salt. Drain well and let sit to warm to room temperature before stir-frying.
Heat the oil in a small skillet for 2-3 minutes. Add the sliced shallots and fry over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally until the pieces are evenly browned and crisped (may take 10-15 minutes). Drain from oil with a fine wire-mesh strainer. Return oil to skillet and fry the garlic over high heat until golden brown. Drain likewise, reserving the oil for stir-frying.
Heat a wok over high heat until its entire surface is hot and smoking. Swirl in 2 Tbs. of the reserved oil to coat the wok surface. Wait a few seconds for it to heat. Then add the dried chilli pieces and fry quickly until they begin to darken. Toss in the chopped onion and fresh peppers and stir-fry until softened and aromatic. Add the Sriracha chilli sauce, soy sauce and palm sugar and season to the desired sourness and saltiness with tamarind and fish sauce. Stir well to blend, heat to a sizzling boil and reduce a minute or two to thicken.
Add the prawns and with frequent stirring, cook over high heat until the sauce is thick and the prawns are cooked to your liking (2-4 minutes). Turn off heat and add the fried shallots and garlic. Toss well.
Transfer to a lettuce-lined serving platter. Garnish top with slivered green onion and cilantro sprigs. Serves 6 with other dishes and rice in a shared family-style meal.
Serves 6 with other dishes and rice in a shared family-style meal.
Though tamarind is a souring agent used throughout Thailand, it is favored in the south where it combines with abundant fresh tiger prawns, either farm-raised or fished from the extensive coastal areas of the peninsula, to produce a dish distinctly identified with the region's seafood offerings. The prawns are mildly spiced with a tangy tamarind taste.
Though the recipe is written for large prawns, it is equally good with smaller shrimp. Adjust the cooking time accordingly. Try it also with squid or a combination of shrimp and squid. Make sure the squid is well drained before stir-frying; squeeze gently to remove all water trapped in the rings so that it does not dilute the sauce. Scallops are also wonderful cooked in this sauce, but dry them well with a towel before adding to the wok.
To save yourself the work of crisping shallots and garlic, use pre-packaged products available in small containers or bags from Southeast Asian markets – substitute with 2-3 Tbs. for the shallots and 2 Tbs. for the garlic. (Click here for Kasma's favorite brand.) However, they generally do not taste as fresh.
See Also: The Story of Dancing Shrimp