Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Ginger Prawns with Broccoli
This dinner celebrates my partners 35 years of sobriety so it had to be good, different and on time since he had a meeting to get to. I went to the store with chicken or fish in mind. I quickly decided the chicken wasn't interesting and we had snapper a couple of days ago. I looked over the Angus tenderloin and rib steaks but we had strip loin the day before. So back to the fish counter and I decided to take prawns that were on special. Raw with shells on, so they very reasonably priced but would take lots of work. We had prawns and pasta a few days ago so I couldn't do that again. A typical thing about prawn dishes is you get 6 prawns or 8 prawns or 10 prawns. They are always counted out like precious stones. This dish will have so many prawns there will be no need to count. The fish monger handed me a bag weighing 453 grams, one gram less than a pound of prawns.
Back to the vegetable department to complete the dish. It will be ginger with broccoli, red peppers for color and sweetness and mushrooms because he likes them. First thing I did when I got home was look up how to clean prawns. Last time I peeled the swimmers off and held the tail with a knife while pulling the meat out. Slow and time consuming. The pros use the tine of a fork and pinch the tail with their fingers. I got out a fork, inserted a tine under the shell at center back and pulled. It came off fairly well. A bit of experimenting showed the best way was to slide under 3 back segments then rotate the tine up and away from the prawn to pull half the shell off. Then pinch the tail between finger tips and pull the meat away from the tail. It took just under 15 minutes to shell the pound of prawns this way then it was easy to use the paring knife to cut out and rinse off the digestive tract. Maybe another 5 minutes.
I put white rice on to cook and precooked the broccoli, then ran it under cold water in a colander to stop the cooking. I diced an onion and put it in a large frying pan on medium high heat to brown. I wanted nice caramelized onions to season the pan. When they were done I took them out, added more oil and dumped in the prawns and finely chopped garlic. When they were barely done I took them out and put them with the onions. Next was to sweat the red pepper and fry the mushrooms. I put them in together in the pan and added a splash of chicken stock to get the mushrooms going and give a base flavor. When the mushrooms were almost done I added the prawns, onions and broccoli back in. Tossed it all with some soy sauce and when it was almost done added the grated ginger root. Quickly finish cooking, plate the rice and the prawn stir fry over or beside the rice.
We dug in and Fern quickly said it's really good. I tasted a prawn, perfectly done with a nice garlic and ginger flavor. The whole dish was delicious. Taking the care to cook each ingredient perfectly then finishing them together makes a huge difference in the taste of the final product. While I was shelling the prawns I thought if I had started earlier I could use the shells to make a little stock for the pan instead of chicken stock. It might have been just a little better if I had, but it was still the best prawn dish I have ever produced.