I stayed with my aunt when I was two and a half years old while my family was away. It was late summer and the sun was warm and bright. The picture of that house still haunted me (in the good way), so cozy, so organized, so traditionally Thai, so clean. When you open the front door you can see the glimpse of the kitchen at the end. Wooden fire smoke spread through the house so gently like the spiritual cleansing ritual while she was cooking. There were no counter, table, refrigerator, or oven. It had an old wooden cabin with see-through the metal net doors for storing food and the leftover and a barrel like clay tank for water storage. When she was cooking she wouldn’t be standing, but sitting graciously like meditating. It was a simple wooden room, wooden floor, wooden window… I was horrified by the thought of the flame might escape from her mud stove and burned the whole house down as it was purely made from wood.
So there she was cooking my favourite dish, Prawn in tamarind sauce, sitting by the stove and the big wok with me looked at her cook like it was the magic show. I was sitting there waiting with the plate of rice, in any minutes now she would pour down the golden prawns in the sweet and sour lava sauce over my plate.
Prawn in Tamarind Sauce
Ingredients: (4 servings)
500 gm prawn- peeled and deveined
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp corn flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
50 gm dried tamarind
4 tbsp balm sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
5 shallots- finely sliced
4 whole dried red chili
Few coriander leaves finely sliced
Oil for deep fried
How to cook:
Combine flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in the mixing bowl.
Add about 1/2 cup of water and lightly stir to create a batter.
Heat the oil in the pan over the medium heat.
Dip the prawn one by one in the batter and deep fried until golden brown. Keep aside.
Soak dried tamarind in 2-3 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
Squeeze and strain water and pulp through the fine strainer.
Add tamarind juice and pulp in the pot along with palm sugar and bring to boil.
Add soy sauce, cook until the sugar is dissolve and reduce the solution to sticky syrup.
Meanwhile, in another pan, heat 2 tbsp oil in the pan over the medium heat.
Throw in whole dried red chili and fry until they’re lightly burned. Remove from the heat and keep aside.
Add sliced shallot in the same oil and stir fried until olden brown. Remove from the heat and keep aside.
Back to the sweet and sour syrup, add fish sauce and check the seasoning. You will know when it is right, when it is sweet and sour and lightly salty and balance.
Now add fried chili and shallot and mix well.
Add deep fried prawn and toss gently.
Sprinkle chopped coriander just before serving.
I am so happy with this dish. Every bit of it is the beautiful composition of flavour and texture. It is not only full of taste but filled with sweet memory. I pour the sour caramelize sauce and prawn over the hot rice. Yaseen looked at me probably the same way I looked at my aunt, and said “Wowwww!”, the way he drink ice cold water when he thirsty. The sauce just melted into the soft rice leave the crispy fried prawns stand on top.
You know when the dish tastes really really great when your kid attackes it as if he has been hungry forever.