-SERVES 2-4 as an Entree
- 15-18 raw large or jumbo shrimp/prawns (about 3/4 to 1 lb.)
- 1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce (available at Asian food stores and some regular grocery stores)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 3 kaffir lime leaves (available at Asian food stores), or substiute 1 tsp. grated lime zest
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. or more cayenne pepper (according to how spicy you want it)
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (available in tall bottles at Asian food stores)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp. palm or brown sugar (to taste)
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped, plus a little more to garnish
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut milk
- a little oil for frying
1. Remove shells from the prawns but leave the tails on, if possible (this makes them easier to eat and also more attractive to serve).
2. To Butterfly the Prawns: Hold a prawn in your palm (spine against your hand).Using a sharp knife, make a cut from the middle of the prawn down to the end (the fatter end of the shrimp). Don't cut too deeply - only part-way through the thickness of the prawn. When cooked, the prawn will now "open up".
3. Place prawns in a mixing bowl. Add the sweet chili sauce, lemon juice, kaffir lime leaves, cayenne pepper, fish sauce, garlic, and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir well to combine.
4. Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes, or up to several hours in the refrigerator (or overnight).
5. Place 1 Tbsp. oil in a frying pan or wok and set over medium to medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around the surface of the pan, then add the prawns together with all of the marinade. Also add the coconut milk (up to 1/3 cup depending on how much sauce you want) and chopped coriander. Stir well.
6. Keep stirring slowly as the dish comes to a simmer. Once the sauce begins to lightly bubble, the prawns will cook fast - in 2-3 minutes. Try not to "boil" this dish - simmer is the key word (medium heat works best).
7. When the sauce is of a consistently reddish color and all the prawns have opened up and are plump and opaque, the dish is ready. Try not to overcook, or the prawns will turn tough.
8. Remove from heat and do a taste-test for salt, sugar, and spice. This dish should be spicy, tangy, and a little sweet. Add more fish sauce if not salty enough, or 1 more tsp. sugar if you prefer it sweeter. Also add more cayenne if you prefer it spicier. If it's too sweet or too salty for your taste, add another Tbsp. of lemon juice.
9. To serve, simply slide the shrimp and sauce into a serving bowl and top with fresh coriander. If desired, garnish with whole red chilies and lemon slices