Thursday, August 02, 2007

Indonesian hot and sour prawn curry

I'M suffering from man flu. It started the moment the bad weather stopped and the sun came out. Typical. I blame it on the walk in the park Wren and I took on Sunday afternoon.
I'm not a great fan of walking in the park on a sunny day. Too many people, too many boisterous kids and too many buzzing insects. All those people spreading their germs. Bah!
It's almost as if it is compulsory to go out when it is a sunny day in this country. Still, I felt it was my duty to follow the herd rather than sit in all afternoon watching the cricket on TV.
It's women who came up with the name for this particular version of the common cold. They claim it is because we men sit around feeling sorry for ourselves and moaning. Apparently, women don't have time to be ill. It's the martyr in them, I guess, and the Fat Kid is quick to emphasise this, saying: "I've got to look after the kids."
What she actually means by that is she can't laze about in bed all day because she has to pack the kids off to school so that she can settle down on the sofa and watch wall-to-wall TV crap like Jeremy Kyle, Trisha, Rikki Lake and Montell Williams. I think we should refer to this as Bird Flu.
Anyway, looking at me on Wednesday night you would be forgiven for thinking that red-nose day had arrived early. My bedroom was like an advert for Andrex, with bits of toilet roll lying everywhere, and I was wondering what I could do to alleviate my misery. On these occasions, I normally opt for a curry.
In one of my Observer food mags I found the ideal recipe, Indonesian hot and sour prawn curry, and decided that the hotter I made it the better the chance of actually tasting it, plus the fact I might be able to sweat the cold out during the night.
The recipe contained six green chillis, sliced with the seeds removed, an operation that I carried out without problem. Unfortunately, I forgot to wash my hands immediately after deseeding the little bundles of heat. Big mistake.
At one stage I felt a sneeze brewing, and quickly put my hands to my nose to prevent myself from blowing the ingredients of said curry all over the kitchen floor.
Aaaaaah! Hot chilli residue and red raw skin don't mix AT ALL. My nose was burning as I ran around the house cussing myself loudly for such a stupid mistake. Still, at least the pain made me forget the sniffles.

The Indonesian hot and sour curry involved a fair bit of work, but was well worth it. The recipe contains ginger and Tamarind juice but I had earlier bought a jar of ginger and Tamarind curry paste which did the trick admirably.
What you need:
12-16 raw king or tiger prawns, peeled and de-veined.
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli power
3 tablespoons groundnut oil.
For the sauce:
3 tbsp oil
one large red onion, chopped (more if you really love onions)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 jar of ginger and tamarind curry paste
2-6 green chillis, deseeded and sliced lengthways
six large, skinned and chopped tomatoes (apparently the best way to skin them is to put them in hot water first, but I didn't realise that until after I had spent wrestling with them for about half an hour)
chopped spring onions and deep fried shallot for garnish.

To do:
Rub the prawns with salt, turmeric and chilli powder, then set aside for 10 minutes.
Heat the groundnut oil. Fry prawns for two minutes, turning, then remove from wok.
Drain them on kitchen paper then replace the oil and heat again.
Add the onions and cook for 10-12 minutes on low heat to colour and soften them.
Add garlic slices and chillies and stir fry for a further minute or so.
Add a teaspoonful of ground coriander and continue cooking for a minute.
Add the tomatoes, tamarind and ginger curry paste and stir and cook on low heat for five minutes.
Add prawns and stir for two minutes to heat through and finish cooking.
In a small frying pan heat oil and then fry the shallots until they turn brown and crispy.
Drain on kitchen paper and turn heat off main dish.
Scatter the shallots and spring onions over the top of the main dish before serving with rice. I also cooked balti aubergine bhartha, and shall provide the recipe on this blog at a later date.
Meanwhile, I'm off to soak my poor, damaged nose in a bucket of cold water...

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