Mama Noi is in the kitchen and she’s making pandan prawns… with my new Thai Red Curry Paste starring in the epic marinade! These crowd-pleasing crustaceans are also delicately fragranced by the pandan leaves they’re wrapped up in. The perfect appetiser, snack or party food dish, it’s a classic seafood starter to keep your sleeve.
12 large prawns, peeled, tails intact, deveined
12 fresh pandan leaves*
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp whole white peppercorns
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp water
For the marinade, place the red curry paste in a large bowl. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, peppercorns and a pinch of salt to a rough paste. Transfer the garlic mixture to the bowl with the curry paste, followed by the oyster sauce and sugar. Mix until well combined. Add the prawns and mix well until they’re all evenly coated.
Fold a prawn in half, then place at the bottom of a pandan leaf. Roll the leaf around the prawn to wrap it, leaving the tail protruding. Use a toothpick to secure the pandan leaf. Repeat with remaining prawns and pandan leaves. You can use these straightaway or prepare them a day ahead and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Preheat a wok filled one-third of the way up with oil over medium heat. The oil is ready to use when a wooden spoon dipped into the oil makes small bubbles.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by placing the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened slightly. Allow to cool before serving.
Once the oil is hot, carefully add the prawns, in batches, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through (the prawns will turn opaque and the pandan leaves will look dark green). Drain on paper towel. Serve with the dipping sauce.
– Pandan leaves are available in the fresh section of Asian grocery stores. You can also use strips of banana leaves.