I am the worst blogger ever. My last post was in February. I’m not even going to try and explain why I haven’t posted because there’s no real reason. As a matter of fact, I photographed this recipe three weeks ago. Just. Plain. Lazy. Anyway, during my unplanned hiatus my husband and I took a much needed vacation. We visited Thailand and had a fabulous time. We went to Bangkok and Koh Samui. Thailand was so different than what I had pictured in my mind. It was the first time my husband or I had been there and we both loved it.
I pictured Bangkok to be a hectic city. In some ways it is, but I mostly saw it as controlled chaos. Traffic without beeping or honking. Everything was beautifully orchestrated. I can still hear the lovely greeting, “Sawadee kha” echoing in my head. I loved the Thai people. They were so friendly. I saw so many smiling faces in Thailand that I began to smile for no reason at all.
I could picture myself living in Bangkok. I do say that for a lot of cities I visit, but Bangkok appealed to me very much. Koh Samui was also fantastic. The hotel we stayed at was super quirky and really fun. The Island had some rundown parts and also some parts that were absolutely spectacular. Beautiful ocean, like I’ve never seen before. All in all I have fond memories of our trip to Thailand.
Let me discuss the food! We ate and ate. I got so used to eating lavish breakfast spreads that when I got back home a bowl of cereal and fruit in the morning was not cutting it at all. We enjoyed spicy curries and surpassed our quota of seafood for a year. I miss all the softshell crab dishes with lots of red chilies, Thai basil, and lemongrass.
We ate gargantuan river prawns, simply grilled and served with a refreshing fresh chopped vegetable relish. This was one of my favorite dishes in Thailand. We don’t get prawns like that here. The week after we returned I was craving the grilled prawns so much that I had to make them. I had no real recipe, but with some trial and error I got it right.
I was so excited that I was upset my husband wasn’t at home to try them hot and fresh. When he got home and tried them, I sat next to him eagerly and kept looking at him to say, “these taste just like the ones in Thailand!” After I finally asked him, he agreed and continued to watch the TV un-phased, typical. Here’s the recipe and I hope you try them. And if you’ve been to Thailand and find they taste THE SAME, do let me know.
Grilled Thai Prawns with a Fresh Vegetable Relish
serves 3-4, as a starter, can easily be doubled or tripled
for the shrimp
1 pound large-size shell-on prawns/shrimp, de-veined
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil of your choice
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
2-3 cloves garlic, mashed
1 inch piece of ginger
1 stalk lemon grass
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped, de-seeded if you like
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste (this much will make it spicy)
sea salt, to taste
for the Fresh Vegetable Relish
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 radish, finely chopped (I used a watermelon radish for color)
1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
1 red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped
1/2 stalk of lemon grass, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 1 lime
fresh chopped herbs like cilantro, Thai basil, or mint
salt, to taste
Place the shrimp in a bowl. Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp in a blender or food processor. Pulse ingredients in the blender until pureed and well combined. Pour the marinade over the shrimp and toss with the shrimp. Marinate the shrimp in the fridge for 1-2 hours. After 1-2 hours, heat a grill pan or use an outdoor grill and grill the shrimp on each side until cooked. it should take about 2 minutes per side. If you would like you may grill the shrimp on skewers.
While the shrimp is marinating prepare the relish by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with the shrimp after it is done on the grill. I also like to serve red chili paste on the side for some extra spice. Serve with lime wedges as well.