Recently, with pork and chicken prices skyrocketing, hub has gone back from the supermarket to the palengke. (Yes, he goes to the palengke while I sleep in on Sundays, woohoo!) Last Sunday, he found beautiful prawns at the Cubao Farmers’ Market. I remembered this recipe I used to cook often – back in the times when we had just one child and commodity prices weren’t so steep. So I’m sharing today my Sichuan Prawns recipe.
Sichuan Prawns is one of hub’s favorite dishes. Once, I saw it being cooked at Discovery Travel and Living. I quickly took down notes, and gave it a try –with a few modifications. Why, it worked! My younger sis would sometimes text me to ask the recipe. So you wouldn’t have to text me again, Shiraz, here is the Sichuan Prawns recipe for you. 🙂
Sichuan Prawns Recipe
500 grams prawns, washed and cleaned (I prefer medium-sized prawns as they cook more easily. I also find them tastier than tiger prawns. Of course the latter are uberly more expensive!)
1 tbsp. sesame oil + 1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 tsp. ginger, chopped
1-2 tsp. chili oil (“chiu chow”)*
1-2 tsp. Chinese cooking wine (optional, but gives the dish a wonderful aroma!)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1-2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. cornstarch + a bit of water (“cornstarch flurry”)
1/2 cup Sprite or water
salt and pepper to taste
A few stalks of onion leeks, chopped
Heat oil in a wok pan. Quickly saute ginger, onions, garlic (be careful not to burn the garlic) and chiu chow chili oil. Add the prawns and continue sauteing over high heat. Add the cooking wine and soy sauce while stirring continuously.
When prawns turn orange**, remove from pan to serving plate, but leave the juices in pan. Return pan to medium-high heat; add sugar, ketchup, cornstarch flurry, salt, pepper and Sprite/water. Stir mixture and let boil to thicken, about one minute. Adjust taste if needed.
Return prawns to pan and coat with mixture. Add the chopped leeks. Let simmer for a little while, about 30 seconds, just to let the flavors bind to the prawns. Remove from heat and pour on serving plate. Done!
[UPDATE: This is a hot, hot, hot dish – Sichuan or Szechuan Province, China is known for its spicy food. Make it milder by decreasing the chili oil. My version leans toward the sweet-spicy side. If you don’t like it too sweet, use plain water instead of Sprite.]
*Substitute for chiu chow chili oil: crush about 1 tbsp. fermented black beans (“taosi”), chop up a chili or two, and saute along with garlic, onions, ginger.
**It’s important not to over-cook the prawns. When they turn orange, that means they’re done. The secret is to cook quickly over high heat. 😉