sharing recipes from one generation to the next
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.
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
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.
*Fresh curry leaves store well in the freezer