Monday, 19 January 2015

Tom Rim

This is one of my favourite prawn recipes, from Luke Nguyen's "Secrets of the Red Lantern". Secrets is not your typical cookbook because it is a good read with the recipes as a bonus. Written by Luke's sister Pauline, interspersed with Luke and Mark Jensen's recipes, it tells the story of their family's move from Vietnam to Australia and the inseparable bond between their food and culture. 
Whether they admit it or not, brown people travelling to our country in a shitty little boat is at the top of quite a few Australians' "what scares the crap out of me the most" list. Of course stupidity prevents these same people from realising that the diverse cultures making up our population are a big part of what makes this place so wonderful. 

Personally, I can't imagine anything more torturous than living in a country full of the white descendants of British criminals. 

The book has many fantastic recipes. This one is easy, quick and packed with flavours of pepper, chilli and tomato, with a strong balance of sweet and sour so common in Vietnamese food. I've tweaked it slightly to include an easy prawn stock, to reduce the sugar and I added some green beans and capsicum.

20 decent size raw prawns
fish or prawn stock
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp tomato paste
1 medium size tomato, chopped (the riper, the better)
half red onion (or some shallots) finely sliced
clove garlic chopped/crushed
chopped chilli to your liking
1.5-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper corns.
2 tsp sugar (palm or brown if available)
chopped veggies of your choice - I added green beans, red capsicum.
pretty colours

Peel all the prawns and put the heads and shells minus the poo-chute* in a small saucepan. Cover with water and boil for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. This will be your prawn stock. 
The easiest and quickest stock you'll ever make
Fry onion until clear, almost light brown.
Add garlic, chilli and fry for a minute or two.
Add tomato, tomato paste, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, some stock. 
Simmer and reduce until thick. 
Keep adding stock and reducing for about 10-15 minutes. Judge the amount and liquidity of the sauce to your liking. Not too thick, but not watery either.
When you're happy with the sauce add the prawns and cook until they've changed colour - only 2-3 minutes. 
almost done, turn off the heat and stir
Overcooking prawns until they are rubbery or powdery is an insult to crustaceans.
Serve in a bowl with or without rice. You don't really need it, but a little bit can be good to soak up the delicious sauce.
Flavour galore

*poo-chute being a colloquialism for the digestive tract that runs down the back of the prawn.