• River prawns cooked in annatto sauce (Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam)Source: Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam

Luke catches the river prawns indoors in a giant shed at District 7. A unique experience where you can fish, relax, drink beer and cook all for about $6.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (17 votes)


  • 4 green jumbo river prawns, about 600 g each
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp annatto oil (available from Asian grocers)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200 g water spinach
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce, mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 2 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • spring onions, coriander sprigs and edible flowers, thinly sliced, to serve

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.


1. Cut the prawns in half lengthways, keeping the shells intact. Remove and discard the vein, then pick out the prawn tomalley from the heads and place into a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon each of the fish sauce and annatto oil along with a pinch of pepper to the tomalley and mix well. Set aside. 

2. In another bowl, place 250 ml (1 cup) water, the sugar and the remaining annatto oil and fish sauce. Stir and set aside. 

3. Heat a wok or frying pan over high heat. When hot, add half the oil and half the garlic, then add the water spinach and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the oyster sauce mixture and stir-fry for another minute. Remove from the wok and set aside. 

4. Add the remaining oil to the wok along with the remaining garlic and the red shallots. Saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute on each side, then remove and keep warm. 

5. Add the seasoned annatto water to the pan, then add the prawn tomalley mixture and simmer for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return the prawns to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes or until just cooked. Taste the sauce and season accordingly, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

6. Divide the water spinach between 4 plates, then place 2 prawn halves on top. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the prawns and garnish with spring onion, coriander, chilli and edible flowers. 


Catch Luke Nguyen on the tracks dishing up Vietnamese fare in the brand-new series, Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam.