A few years ago I was gifted Luke Nguyen’s France cookbook which has some great cross-cultural French and Vietnamese recipes in it.
My version of this recipe is easy and great for entertaining if you do the prep beforehand as it just requires quick shallow frying at the end,
Splitting and flattening the king prawns before marinating them allows the flavours of the marinade to be absorbed by the prawns.
The addition of fish sauce to the marinade brings out the “prawnness” in the prawns when they are cooked, and using butter as well as oil to fry them in makes them super tasty.
In my simpler version, I don’t have some of the “fancier” ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves and perilla leaves which are a bit harder to get hold of. I substitute parsley or coriander to garnish, and add lime juice at the end. I also don’t bother to make the suggested vietnamese dipping sauce which is made from more fish sauce and lime juice as the juices from the pan are great with the extra lime juice added at the end.
Hope you like it!
Prep time including marination: 50-60 minutes Cooking time: 5 minutes
1 kg green/raw king prawns
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 lemongrass white part only finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2-3 red chillies chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Parsley or coriander to garnish
1. Remove heads and veins from prawns but leave shells on. Split prawns down their backs using a sharp knife but make sure you don’t cut all the way through. You want to butterfly them so they can be flattened in their shells.
2. Put prawns flat with shell side up in a dish or tray and place baking paper over them and weigh them down to flatten. Leave in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile make the marinade by crushing the lemongrass, garlic and chilli to a paste in a mortar and pestle or blender.
4. Combine paste with fish sauce and then coat both sides of the prawns in the mixture and leave to marinate for 20-30 minutes. (The prawns might close up a bit again when you do this.)
5. Heat oil and butter in a non-stick pan and add prawns cut side down first to cook over high heat, for 1-2 minutes pressing them down with a spoon or spatula to flatten them. Turn over and “scorch” the shells.
6. Squeeze over lime juice, transfer to serving dish with pan juices, sprinkle with garnish and serve with a salad and bread to mop up the delicious juices.