Chef Silas Masih shares one of his favourite dishes from his restaurant, Pepper and Salt, in Denmark, WA.
Tomato base (makes 500 ml)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 coriander roots
- 1 small onion, diced
- vegetable oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 400 g tin tomatoes, crushed
- ½ tsp palm sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh garlic, peeled, chopped
- 8 small bird’s-eye chillies, seeds removed (optional)
- 2 tsp ground Szechuan pepper
- 2 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground star anise
- 32 green prawns, peeled, deveined, butterflied, tails left on
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 24 fresh curry leaves
- 6 small red Asian shallots, peeled, finely diced
- 700 ml coconut cream
- 500 ml tomato base (from above)
- 100 ml tamarind pulp
- coarsely ground black pepper
- salt flakes
- 2½ cups hot water
Fennel, mint and tomato salsa
- 1 medium fennel, thinly sliced
- mint, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 tomatoes, seeds removed, thinly sliced
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.
Drink match Grosset Off Dry Riesling 2011, Clare Valley, SA
"This is an intensely spicy dish, with a chilli kick to boot, so finding the right wine is even more important than normal. You don't want a higher alcohol wine, as this will only boost the heat of the dish, so look for a lighter white wine with a hint of sweetness to offset the heat. A tangy white wine with plenty of acid will also act like a squeeze of lemon or lime on the dish – perfect! With all of that in mind, go for this perfectly balanced, floral, zesty Riesling from the king of Clare, Jeffrey Grosset." - Dan Coward
For the tomato base, dry toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan until fragrant. In a mortar and pestle, add the seeds, garlic, coriander roots and crush to a paste.
Sauté the onions in a large frying pan over low heat with a little oil until translucent. Add the mustard seeds, spice paste, and chilli flakes. Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes. Simmer on a low heat for 15–20 minutes until thickened. Season to taste. Grate the palm sugar into the sauce. Turn the heat off and rest. Sieve the sauce.
To make the coconut prawns, crush the ginger, garlic, chilli and spices in a mortar and pestle to a paste. In a large bowl, fold half the paste mixture in with the prawns and set aside.
Heat 100 ml oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until just smoking. Add the curry leaves and fry. Remove the leaves and set aside for garnish. Add half the quantity of marinated prawns, turn continuously to seal and caramelise. This should take 2–3 minutes. Place this batch on a flat tray in a single layer.
Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of hot water to remove the caramelised flavours. Spread this over the prawns. Wash and dry the frypan, and repeat with another 100 ml oil and the remaining marinated prawns.
Return the clean pan to low heat and add remaining oil. Place the diced shallot and remaining spice paste into the pan, cook for 5–7 minutes until softened and golden. Add one cup of water from the kettle and bring to simmer until reduced by half. Add the coconut cream, tomato base and tamarind pulp. Simmer for 5 minutes until the tomato base is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Season with pepper and salt. Place the prawns into the sauce and simmer until just cooked through.
Combine the ingredients for the fennel, mint and tomato salsa.
Serve the chilli coconut prawns over steamed rice with the fresh fennel, mint and tomato salsa. Scatter over the curry leaves.
• The tomato-based sauce will last for 2 weeks in a sealed, airtight container.