Peter Kuruvita presents his very special Sri Lankan prawn recipe. The aromatic sauce is cooked down to a paste, releasing all the wonderful flavours, and served with the prawns along with the spectacular garnishes.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (12 votes)


  • 200 ml vegetable oil 
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 6 Bombay onions, very finely chopped
  • 5 cm knob ginger, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 3 long red chillies, finely chopped
  • 150 g butter
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tsp black pepper roughly crushed
  • salt, to taste
  • 10-12 prawns, deshelled tails intact, deveined, washed


  • 1 pomelo 
  • oil, for frying
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced 
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 2 red chillies, flesh and seeds removed and julienned
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat half the vegetable oil in a heavy-based pot over high heat. Add the curry leaves, Bombay onions, ginger, garlic and chillies.

Stir until the onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauces, oyster sauce, pepper and salt. Stir to combine.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, to prepare the garnish, remove the skin from the pomelo by cutting off each end and prying the remaining skin away from the flesh with your fingers. Then separate each segment. Inside each segment, separate the flesh to get short strands, or 'pearls", to sprinkle over the finished dish.

Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, add the red onion and fry until browned and crisp. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Combine the coconut and onion in a small bowl. Set aside until serving time.

Season the prawns with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Heat the remaining oil in a wok over high heat. When smoking, add the prawns, one at a time. Fry until the prawns are just cooked in the centre. Remove from the pan and transfer to a bowl.

Intertwine two of the prawns and arrange on a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining prawns. Spoon the sauce over the each pair of prawns.

Top the prawns with a small portion of the onion-coconut mixture, chilli, fried onion, pomelo strands and curry leaves. Serve.