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Spiced prawns and peppers

spiced prawns and red peppers

spiced prawns and red peppers

There’s a school of though that argues you should plan before you shop for food, that it’s best to have decided what you intend to cook and then only buy from your ingredients list. While it’s true this approach may help minimise waste and keep spending in check, there is no room for spontaneity, and no delight in the temptation of beautiful fresh produce. It’s cool, calculated and controlled. I am none of those things.

Seasonal awareness may influence my planning and dictate what’s written on my shopping list, but I like the unpredictability of buying ingredients on impulse. If there is a glut of tiny sweet strawberries, we eat tiny sweet strawberries, if juicy ripe tomatoes are so plentiful that the grower is almost giving them away, we eat tomatoes, and if the fisherman’s catch includes large fresh green prawns, we eat prawns. 

In a seafood market dominated by cheap frozen imports and farmed products, it was impossible to resist a kilo of wild green prawns that had been pulled from Moreton Bay the day before, prawns that were fresh, never frozen, prawns that were reasonably priced, almost cheap.

It seemed right to cook the plump green prawns with tomatoes and peppers after all, they too are at their best in the early days of autumn and choosing a quick cook saute suited the heavy humidity of the day. This is not a curry dish with a soupy sauce, but a funky riot of pan charred sweet peppers, sweet prawns and spice. All have equal importance.

The complex flavours in this dish shone brilliantly so I kept the prawn curry accompaniments simple. A bed of sweet and spicy carrot pilau and a side salad of crunchy kachumber laced with coriander.

I drew inspiration for this dish from royalla vepudu, an Andhra – style prawn fry recipe from The Indian Cookery Course by Monisha Bharadwarj, a book of Indian food I highly recommend. 

I have unashamedly posted a number of recipes recently featuring fresh sweet red peppers, the season continues.

Spiced prawns and red peppers

600g large prawns, shelled*, deveined, butterflied

2 large red peppers, sliced into julienne, roughly 4mm X 50mm

1 tablespoon mustard oil

1 tablespoon garlic infused oil

1 heaped teaspoon brown mustard seeds

1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds

8 fresh curry leaves*

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

pinch asafoetida

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chilli1 tablespoon grated root ginger

2 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup water

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and devein the prawns. Reserve the prawn shells to make a batch of stock for the freezer.

Run a small knife around the back of the prawn to butterfly. Set the prawns aside in the fridge.

Cut the flesh from the peppers, discard the seeds and membranes. Juilienne the pepper flesh and set aside.

Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over a high heat. Add the oils and the mustard seeds.

As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop add the fennel seeds and curry leaves and cook for a few seconds.

Add the peppers and reduce the heat to medium.

Saute the peppers until soft and sweet.

Stir through the grated ginger.

Add the turmeric, asafoetida, chilli, tomatoes and water. 

Return the pan to the boil then cook for 3 minutes until the tomatoes are pulpy.

Add the prawns, stir them through the sauce, then cover the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3

*Fresh curry leaves store well in the freezer


About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

14 comments on “Spiced prawns and peppers

  1. StefanGourmet
    April 16, 2019

    I do a mix of planning and spontaneity. If I only do the spotaneous, I will too often make the same stuff over and over. Which my husband wouldn’t mind, but I like variation and besides I would quickly run out of stuff to blog! But if I see something great or on sale, I will pick it up and change my plans. Except for a brief spell after a short business trip to India, I never cook Indian food. The Oriental shops around here are mostly Chinese or Indonesian, so I’ll have to see if they carry the Indian ingredients. Unlike close by UK, we don’t have many immigrants from India around here. I thought Australians always refer to sweet peppers as capsicums, but you are probably being considerate towards your international readers.


    • ladyredspecs
      April 17, 2019

      Nice to hear from you Stefan. Australia is such a melting pot of cultures that we interchange many words. I think though it’s the Italians who arrived in the 50s & 60s we can thank for changing the exclusive use of capsicums to include peppers. I wonder what seasonal treats I will find today at the market

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa @ cheergerm
    April 16, 2019

    My boys (and myself) would love this, will check out what the local seafood joint has going in prawns tomorrow. That’s exactly how I shop too Mrs R.


  3. Conor Bofin
    April 13, 2019

    Excellent dish Sandra. Lovely to see the fresh flavors.


  4. sherry
    April 13, 2019

    hi sandra
    isn’t it grand to have some cooler weather at last?! yay.. i love capsicums! i see you call them peppers. have you become american?:-) I asked a friend’s daughter who is about 22 why her compatriots use american words and eat american foods etc etc. she said it is because they literally do not understand that their culture has been completely subsumed by a Yank one. anyway oops what am i doing? my fave rant again ….i sound like my dear departed dad. love prawns and capsicums so this sounds like a real winner. cheers sherry


    • ladyredspecs
      April 13, 2019

      I’m loving the cooler weather Sherry. I guess I’m writing for the worldwide audience, Aussies are adaptable but some of our friends from over the pond are unfamiliar with our lingo. I hear myself sounding like my parents too especially right now with Miss 15yr old trying to be a vegan grand daughter in residence. Very testing…..


  5. Eha
    April 12, 2019

    Am quite envious of you and Ron: when you live at the ‘end of the line’ rurally you have no choice but to have the most detailed plans in place or otherwise you are missing something until next month’s on line shop ! Anyways must admit I am one of those ‘planner’ ones by nature but do know my seasonal foods well 🙂 ! Absolutely love this prawn recipe, especially the use od fennel and mustard seeds and my beloved asafoetida (hing) . . . the Easter prawns will be bought with you in mind !


    • ladyredspecs
      April 13, 2019

      I hear you Eha, we were country folk when our kids were young and it was a long drive in the car if you forgot the milk. The swings and roundabouts of life….


  6. Ron
    April 11, 2019

    Your prawn dish sounds smashing. I like spontaneity when shopping as well, especially our fresh veggie open market. We stroll through and get inspired by some lovely produce then head to the fishmonger truck. We spot our seafood of choice and start thinking about how to honor it.


    • ladyredspecs
      April 12, 2019

      It sounds as if we have similar shopping habits Ron and it certainly works for me. I really enjoy being inspired by fresh ingredients. This was a delicious amalgamation of prawns and peppers


  7. chef mimi
    April 11, 2019

    What a lovely dish. and a lovely post. I have yet to figure out if what I’m growing are truly curry plants.


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