Turbinado – Chili Glazed Fresh Water Prawns with Haricot Vert and
By Chef Khai Duong, Ana Mandara, San Francisco
Combining fruit with haricot vert was an accidental blessing. One afternoon Chef Khai noticed his daughter, Aivy, snacking on, without thought, persimmon and green beans. Chef Khai was intrigued by this unusual combination and decided to try it as an accompaniment to this sweet, salty, and spicy prawn entrée. It worked. When persimmons are out of season, Chef Khai found that white peaches impart the same magic. The Prawns In Vietnam, huge fresh water prawns are common but expensive, primarily reserved for special occasions. If you are lucky enough to find them with the heads attached, they create quite a dramatic presentation. If fresh is not possible, try looking in the freezer section of an Asian market for these extra large whole prawns. If there is roe, that makes it even better. This recipe can be prepared without the roe; however, it is the secret ingredient that makes this sauce luxurious. Headless tiger prawns may be substituted and it is not necessary that they are the colossal size.
To prevent overcooking, Chef Khai sautés the prawns and sauce in separate skillets, a technique he adopted from his French culinary training. After sautéing is finished and the sauce is made, the two skillets can be set aside until you are ready to finish the entrée. Just seconds before serving, turn the heat on under both skillets, toss the prawns with the hot sauce to glaze them and you are done.
For Chef Khai’s version of Vietnamese caramelized sugar sauce, he prefers
the taste of turbinado sugar because it doesn’t burn as easily as white sugar. Brown sugar may be substituted.
8 extra colossal (U/10 per pound) whole fresh water prawns (about ¾ pound) with the heads and tails attached, or substitute tiger prawns
4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or brown sugar
2 tablespoons of the reserved prawn roe
4 tablespoons white wine
3 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, or to taste
Haricot Vert and White Peach
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces haricot vert or blue lake green beans, trimmed and blanched
1 white peach, peeled and cut into julienne (1/8 thick by 1½ -inch long) lengths, or persimmon
Pinch of kosher salt
Few twists of black pepper
Shell and de-vein the prawns leaving the head and tails intact. Remove the roe from behind the head and reserve.
If using the prawn roe, add 2 tablespoons of oil into a large skillet. Without the roe, use only 1 tablespoon oil. Add the garlic to the oil and sauté over medium-high for about 15 seconds until light golden color. Add the chili powder, sugar and if available, the prawn roe. Whisk together until thick and completely blended, about 30 seconds.
Over high-heat add the wine and whisk together for about 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Add the fish sauce and continue whisking until the mixture has reduced by half, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. The sauce should be a light creamy glaze consistency. Set aside. Keep warm.
In a separate large skillet, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the remaining oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the prawns and toss occasionally, until lightly seared on all sides. Cook until medium-rare and feels firm to the touch when pressed. Remove the prawns and pour out all the oil from the skillet. Return the prawns to the pan and pour the sauce on top. Cook together over mediumhigh heat until the sauce glazes the prawns. Keep warm.
To prepare the Haricot Vert and White Peach: In a skillet over medium heat, add the butter. When hot, but not burning, add the haricot vert. Toss to cook and coat with the butter, about 1 minute or until tender, but still crisp. Add the peaches, salt and pepper; toss until mixed.
To Assemble: Divide and arrange the beans and white peach in the center of 4 plates. Top each with two prawns. Pour extra sauce on top and on to the sides of the plates.