The “al fresco” restaurants of Malaysia serve these chili prawns right from the blazing wok. This is one of Malaysia’s most popular dishes, filled with layers of flavor, using ingredients from the cupboards of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures. It’s best to use a wok for this recipe since the hot wok will create a marvelous caramelized crust on the surface of the prawns. The sauce in which the prawns are cooked includes ginger, garlic, curry leaves, tomato ketchup, a small amount of fresh chilies, and is thickened with eggs and sesame seeds at the end to give body to the dish.
Chili prawns are traditionally served with Chinese-style steamed buns, but a French baguette is a fantastic substitute. In my home, we cannot resist dipping into the sauce, making a delicious mess. I also can make this interchangeably with crabs, since the key is the delightfully complex, creamy chili sauce.
- Yield: 4 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 25 min
- Active: 25 min
- 3 tablespoons store bought bottled sweet chili sauce
- 4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 5 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- 2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
- 3 or 4 red chilis, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup curry leaves, or 3 sprigs of curry leaves
- 1 pound tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
- 1/2 cup low sodium, good quality chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Begin by combining sweet chili sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a wok or a large deep skillet over medium heat for 40 seconds. Add the peanut or canola oil around the perimeter of the wok so that it coats the sides and bottom. When the surface shimmers slightly, add the garlic, ginger, red chilis, and curry leaves, and stir-fry until fragrant and the garlic is golden in color, about 5 minutes.
- Add the sauce mixture to the wok and mix well. Allow the sauce to simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the prawns to the wok and stir-fry on high heat, pressing the prawns against the hot wok so they caramelize, about 30 seconds. Pour in the chicken broth, mix well, and allow the prawns to cook in the chicken broth for 2 minutes over high heat.
- Add the cornstarch mixture and lightly beaten egg to the wok. Stir-fry for 1 minute until the sauce thickens. Remove wok from heat. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.