Tamarind prawn recipes seem to me to vary so wildly that up until now I’ve been put off from making them. The recipes seem to be divided into those with an ingredient list as long as your arm to those which more or less tell you to pour some tamarind over some king prawns. As an ingredient fresh tamarind adds a unique flavour to dishes but it has to be balanced out; the fruity sourness has to be taken on by sweetness and saltiness in equal measure or the result is not nice. It’s well worth investing in a block of fresh tamarind (which will cost you all of 58p), it will keep in the fridge door for an age if well wrapped and certain Indian and Asian dishes will be so much the better for it’s inclusion.
10 king prawns
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 small fresh pineapple, cored and cut into 6 large batons
1 tbsp wet tamarind paste covered with 3 tbsp boiling water
4 tbsp sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp black chinese vinegar
Tsp finely chopped red chilli
Oil for frying
Prepare the pineapple by splitting it down the middle, removing the core and cutting half of it into 6 long pieces. Put the pieces in a zip lock bag with 1 tbsp of the sweet soy and the black chinese vinegar and give it a shake. When they are all covered put the pieces on a roasting tray and cook at gas mark 4 for forty mins, turning once half way through.
For the prawns: once the tamarind has been sitting in the boiling water long enough for it to cool, put your hand in and squeeze all the pulp off the seeds. Strain, discard the seeds and then add the remaining juice to a pan with the rest of the sweet soy sauce, the cider vinegar and the fish sauce. Bring it to the boil and reduce until you have a thick, sticky reduction that will coat the back of a spoon easily. Set aside. Put a good slug of neutral flavoured oil in a heavy based pan and sizzle the garlic but don’t let it brown. Then add the prawns and stir vigorously until they start to turn pink. Quickly put in the reduced sauce and keep stirring over a high heat until the prawns become just cooked through – this should not take more than two mins from start to finish.
Share the roast pineappple batons between 2 starter plates, divide the prawns and sauce and finally, scatter over some finely chopped red chilli.