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Spicy Salt et Pepper Prawns

For best results, use raw tiger prawns (shrimp) in their shells. They are 7 - 10 cm (3 - 4 inches) long, and you should get 18 - 20 per 500 g (1 lb 2 oz).

ingredients

serves 4
250 - 300 g (9 - 10 1/2 oz) raw prawns (shrimp) in their shells, defrosted if frozen
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 - 3 spring onions (scallions), to garnish

spicy salt and pepper

1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp five-spice powder

method

1. Pull the soft legs off the prawns (shrimp), but keep the body shell on. Dry well on absorbent kitchen paper (paper towels).

2. Place the prawns (shrimp) in a bowl with the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry and cornflour (cornstarch). Turn the prawns (shrimp) to coat thoroughly in the mixture and leave to marinate for about 25 - 30 minutes.

3. To make the Spicy Salt and Pepper, mix the salt, ground Szechuan peppercorns and five-spice powder together. Place in a dry frying pan (skillet) and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes over a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the spices burning on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a preheated wok or large
frying pan (skillet) until smoking, then deep-fry the
prawns (shrimp) in batches until golden brown. Remove
the prawns (shrimp) from the wok with a slotted spoon and
drain on kitchen paper (paper towels).

5. Place the spring onions (scallions) in a bowl, pour on 1 tablespoon of the hot oil and leave for 30 seconds. Serve the prawns (shrimp) garnished with the spring onions (scallions), and with the Spicy Salt and Pepper as a dip.

The roasted spice mixture made with Szechuan peppercorns is used throughout China as a dip for deep-fried food. The peppercorns are sometimes roasted first and then ground. Dry-frying is a way of releasing the flavours of the spices.

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