Tuesday 6 April 2010

Curry in a Hurry: Spicy Prawns with Paprika and Coconut Milk

A perky sauce made with fresh spices and coconut milk can work wonders with prawns that have come straight from the freezer. It can also perform miracles with defrosted prawns that have been abandoned - by a gin-giddy cook - in their lemon-garlic marinade for a full 36 hours.

Spicy Prawns with Paprika and Coconut Cream
Plate by David Walters
I was intending to flash-fry these prawns as a late-night snack for guests at my husband's 50th birthday party last week, but lost all interest in the idea once the party was in full swing (and - okay - once I had a number of beetroot-and-gin shots under my belt).

It was hardly a great surprise that  no one felt like eating prawns the day after the party ('Don't point your fokken tentacles at me!' growled my husband when he found them in the fridge, quoting his favourite line from the movie District Nine). But I certainly was not going to throw away two boxes of plump Italian prawns -  which I'd bought on a special at Woolworths -  no matter how sulky they might have felt at being left to languish in the fridge. I'm not going to pretend that they had the bounce of fresh prawns harvested at dawn from limpid waters, but I was surprised to find that they were still sweet and succulent, and as springy between the teeth as any prawn that's done time in a deep-freeze

You could use prawn tails for this recipe, but your sauce won't have the rich flavour that comes from the juicy heads and other whiskery bits.

Note: my prawns were still okay to use after 36 hours because of the preserving qualities of the lemon juice and salt.  If you're defrosting prawns, I recommend you use them within 4 hours.

Curry in a Hurry: Spicy Prawns with Paprika and Coconut Milk

1.5 kg whole frozen prawns, defrosted for 1 hour

For the marinade:
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
juice of 2 lemons
2 T (30 ml) olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) salt

For the sauce:
3 T (45 ml) olive oil
1 thumb-length cinnamon quill
2 tsp (10 ml) black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
340 ml coconut milk
1 T (15 ml) freshly ground cumin
1½  tsp (7.5 ml) paprika [smoked paprika if you can find it]
1½  tsp (7.5 ml) red chilli powder or chilli flakes [to taste]
1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
milled black pepper and salt
the juice of a lemon

To serve:
6 spring onions
a small bunch of fresh coriander

Devein the prawns and place them in a bowl.  Add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and, using your hands, toss well so that every prawn is lightly coated. Cover and place in the fridge for an hour or two. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or a paella pan. Add the cinnamon quill, mustard seeds and curry leaves and fry, over a brisk heat, until the mustard seeds begin to pop and crackle.  Add the prawns and cook, tossing frequently, for a few minutes, or until the prawns have turned to a rich coral colour.  Turn down the heat and stir in the coconut milk, cumin, paprika, chilli powder and turmeric. Cook gently - a slow bubble is just right -  for 5 minutes.  In the meantime, finely slice the spring onions (all the white parts, and some of the green) and chop the coriander. Season the prawns with pepper and add a little more salt if necessary. Squeeze the lemon juice over the prawns and toss to coat.  Tip the prawns onto a heated platter and sprinkle with the spring onions and coriander, and a dusting of paprika.

Serves 4.
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Adele @ WillworkforBiltong said...

I love this post! "Curry in a hurry" followed by "marinated for 36 hours". It's great. Also love the quote, can't wait to use it. Am I the only South African left who haven't yet seen the movie? Somehow I don't see it as appropriate for the mums and babies session.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, it looks really good! A prawn recipe for my friend to try (I'm a scaredy cat when it come to de-veining prawns et al!). I'm going to send him across to check it out x Lana

Robyn said...

I have ALL these ingredients at home (except for the prawns). Thanks for a fanTAStic midweek dinner idea :-)

Tandy | Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com) said...

good thing that the prawns could be used in such a lovely way :)

Marisa said...

I think I've found my new favourite saying! Nearly laughed out loud at your husbands choice words upon encountering those prawns in the fridge.

Lovely recipe as always - I'm sure the lengthy marinading just added to the delicious prawn flavour.

Nina Timm said...

Is it possible to marinade something for too long? 12,24,36 hours who's counting. The proof was definitely in the tasting....Blimey, it looks good Juno!

przepisy said...

Really g8 recipe!!!

Jane-Anne said...

Thanks all. Nina, the only time I've had a problem with leaving meat in a marinade for too long was when I put chicken breasts in yoghurt overnight. They were completely mushy by the time I got round to cooking them!