Just prior to Christmas, I purchased a 3kg box of Austral Fisheries wild-caught tiger prawns. Austral Fisheries operates a fleet of ten prawn trawlers in the Northern Prawn Fishery situated off the coast of northern Australia. The fishery was established in the late 1960′s and is Australia’s most valuable fishery. The company's Banana and Tiger prawns have been certified as 'sustainable and well managed' by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
We've been cooking our way through that box of prawns and I have to tell you, the quality is outstanding! Austral's trawlers are fully refrigerated, allowing the crews to grade, pack and freeze the prawns on board within a short time of them being caught. Thus, that ocean freshness is truly locked in.
With such a good quantity of prawns, as well as a tray or two of mangoes, I thought I'd road test a recipe that had taken my fancy from Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong. This warm mango and prawn salad appears on page 248-249 of the book and was also showcased In an episode of the TV series. Luke cited this as a special recipe for his mum and dad, as he and his parents prepared the dish on a boat at the Cai Be floating markets. As they chopped, sliced and stir-fried, Mr and Mrs Nguyen shared stories of their journey to freedom in the 1970s. It must have been harrowing to say goodbye to their parents and other family members, knowing that they were leaving them behind in Vietnam. I thought of how my own parents had been in similar circumstances when they fled Hungary in 1956-57. Such amazing courage.
Here is my take on the recipe, which appears kind courtesy of Luke Nguyen and Hardie Grant Books. You need semi ripe mangoes for this d
LUKE NGUYEN'S WARM MANGO & PRAWN SALAD RECIPE
2 x semi-ripe mangoes, peeled and the flesh julienned
125g snow peas, topped and tailed
a handful of mixed mint leaves, basil leaves (and Vietnamese mint and perilla, if you have it), sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
2-3 red Asian shallots, sliced
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
juice of two limes
450g large raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact (optional)
salt and pepper to taste, optional
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
Blanch the snow peas briefly in a saucepan of boiling water. Drain, refresh in cold water and drain again. Slice the snow peas and combine in a mixing bowl with the julienned mango and the sliced mint and basil leaves.
Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together in a small jug. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Heat your wok, add the oil and saute the shallot and ginger briefly until they begin to caramelise. Toss in the prawns and stir fry until they are just cooked (they will turn pink). Deglaze the wok with the lime juice and toss through the prawns. Add the prawn mixture to mango and other ingredients in the mixing bowl and then pour over the dressing. Pile onto a plate, garnish with herbs and serve. This quantity will serve 2 as a main meal.
* As an option for Peter, who dislikes mustard, Luke kindly suggested I make a nuoc cham dressing instead.
The process in pictures...
Pile onto a plate, garnish and serve...
If you missed the Cai Be episode of Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong, you may be able to watch it online here thanks to SBS.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.