Today I decided to take a trip to my local Asian supermarket (something I'd meant to do for some time now,) and I certainly was pleasantly surprised. What awaited me was a plethora of 'authentic Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese products' of whom I am generally quite fond, as Asian cooking and ingredients have a special place in my heart.
While wandering the aisles for what seemed like hours (actually, it was hours) I found a wonderful selection of grocery list items that my usual HEB trips had failed to deliver. The oh-so -hard-to-find large tapioca pearls (giant 'faux caviar', beware,) shiro miso, lotus root, palm sugar, Chayote, curries and so much more leapt from the shelves into my basket.
Most notably, MT Supermarket has a fish and meat section to be reckoned with. The entire back wall of a gigantic store was packed with a wondrous selection of fresh fish and seafood, topped off by several large tanks full of live, swimming fish, as well what might be the largest pork selection ever (go figure.)
One item in particular caught my eye, and inspired this delicious and beautiful Thai recipe. Fresh, not frozen, head-on, prawns. Not really big shrimp, actual honest-to-gosh prawns (note the pincers.)
Grilled Prawns with Red Curry Vermicelli
1/2 lb. Prawns, heads removed, peeled (reserve heads)
1 T. red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai Basil, chiffonade
2 oz. Vermicelli (rice noodles)
Skewer the Prawn tails (head end down) to keep straight while cooking.
Season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Grill about 1-2 minutes a side.
Squeeze the 'goodness' out of the reserved Prawn heads.
Combine curry paste, coconut milk and the 'goodness.'
Bring to a simmer and whisk to dissolve.
Soak the vermicelli in water for about 5 minutes.
Cook in boiling water for another 5 minutes.
Drain. Toss with 1 T. curry and the basil.
1 Basil leaf
Lotus Root, peeled and sliced thin (about 1/8")
1 reserved Prawn head
Fry the basil leaf, lotus chips, and the Prawn head until crispy and golden.
Plate with more curry and enjoy.
All in all it was a wonderful dish, and it left me wishing I had bought about 15 more. These Prawns were like mini-lobsters, and had a similar flavor and sweet succulent ocean goodness. Grilling them lightly preserves that flavor and texture, and leaving the curry on the side allows you to regulate the heat level to your liking.