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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Food for the Senses: Stir Fried Prawns with Veggies and Cashew Nuts

Good taste is not the essence of food. And energy and alleviation of hunger are not the primary goals of food. I know that sounds a little weird, but it’s true. Food should be enjoyed and savored and should satisfy all the senses. The vibrant colors. The appetizing aroma. The sounds that food makes when it’s being prepared or being eaten. The feel of the food in your mouth. And of course, the taste.

Food that doesn’t look good probably doesn’t taste as good as it should. Think of all the times that you looked at something and grimaced, even before tasting it. If and when you tasted it, it might have surprised you and maybe you liked it. Or maybe you couldn’t get over the horrible way it looked. Or maybe you didn’t even give it a chance and you bypassed it for something that looked more appetizing.

This goes the same for smell. Durian anyone??? This is a fruit that absolutely stinks. Not only that, but I cannot get over the horrible slimy texture. For me, this will never be my favorite fruit. I’ll admit, if I plug my nose, the taste is not bad, but will I realistically plug my nose just to eat this slippery fruit?? Nope! Not a chance.

The dish I made today has an Asian influence and combines many different tastes, textures, and colors. This dish really satisfies all the sense. The taste of sweet succulent prawns, the salty bean paste, the slight sourness from the vinegar. The vibrant colors of the vegetables. The variety of textures. The sounds of the cashew nuts crunching in my mouth. And of course, the beautiful aroma of everything coming together.

The most important thing about this dish is: do not overcook the vegetables! This is the key to keeping this dish fresh tasting. It only takes about 8 minutes to cook this dish, and I recommend you do it immediately before serving. You can prepare all the vegetables in advance and mix the sauce. Then, wait until you are ready to eat!

Stir Fried Prawns with Veggies and Cashew Nuts
Serves 4

½ kg prawns (the larger the better), peeled and cleaned
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
2 carrots, sliced
4 sticks celery, sliced
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 inch ginger, sliced
1/2 cup cashew nuts, toasted and put over top
Oil for cooking
1 tsp corn starch mixed with ½ cup cold water

For the Sauce:
3 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ cup black bean sauce

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce together and set aside.

Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a wok or a large pan on high heat and stir-fry the prawns until almost cooked (about 2 minutes). Remove the prawns from pan and set aside.

Add another few tablespoons of oil into the pan and add the ginger and all the veggies. Stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes until carrots veggies are bright and just starting to cook. (Do not cook for too long, as you want the veggies to still have some crunch). Add prawns back in with the veggies. Then add in the sauce and stir to coat and to finish cooking the prawns.

Mix the cornstarch and cold water together and stir to disolve. This is called a slurry and is used to thicken the gravy of the stir fry. Add this mixture to the pan, and bring up to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add salt to taste.

Serve with white rice and sprinkled with the toasted cashew nuts. Enjoy!


  1. Me likey ... bookmarking this to try soon! Always looking for dishes with shrimp 'coz the hubbs loves 'em. Thks :)

  2. This looks delicious. The veggies look great being stir fried!

  3. Thanks for your comments. If you like shrimp, keep your eyes on this blog for another simple idea coming soon. Thanks for cooking and eating with me!

  4. I love prawns and this dish looks really delicious.