Though he'd not been on my radar before then, Rick Stein was suddenly everywhere this summer.
This recipe is from an excerpt from Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey in the September 2009 edition of Sainsbury's Magazine, which I picked up at a Sainsbury's supermarket in Glasgow during our trip. And what a great magazine it is! It was 1.40 GBP (around 210 yen) and chock full of recipes from my favourite British food writers. The only let down for me was seeing Diana Henry, who was so instrumental in sparking this global food journey I'm on with Crazy Water Pickled Lemons, spruiking the supermarket's wares. Still, we gotta do what we gotta do, I suppose. Incidentally, it is actually possible to subscribe to SM, though they don't make their subscription site easy to find. For Japan, it's 59 GBP for 12 issues (1 year). Tempting, very tempting...
But back to this recipe. It can be summed up in two words: Easy and Yum! It's a no-brainer.
You will need some Thai/Malaysian groceries, though, so plan ahead. I didn't have any dried shrimp, the last lot having been forgotten at the back of the fridge and looking slightly dodgy. I substituted prawn/shrimp paste. This is probably the less easy to find ingredient, but I'm all about weird ingredients. A little goes a long way. If you seek it out, you'll know from the aroma coming from the sealed jar whether it is going to be for you. Now that I've opened mine, I suppose I'll need to buy that Thai cookbook I've been lusting over... (G)
This substitution, plus the reduction in the chilli I had to make in order to feed this to the Young Man, made my sauce more like a soup. It tasted fab anyway, but next time I will deseed the tomatoes and see how that goes.
Chef Wan's Malaysian prawn and noodle salad
125 g dried rice noodles
few drops vegetable oil
300 g large, cooked prawns [Saffron: for preference; I used smaller ones]
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
large handful of mixed coriander leaves, mint leaves and chives, torn
100 g roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 stem lemongrass, outer leaves removed and core finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
For the sauce
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 fat cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp Thai prawn paste [S: in lieu of 25 g dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 30 min], optional
3 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and sliced
4 tbsp palm sugar
1 Bring a pan of unsalted water to the boil. Meanwhile, put the ingredients for the sauce into a food processor or blender and grind, using the pulse button, into a coarse, wet paste [S: it will be more like a soup if you follow my method].
2 Drop the noodles into the pan of boiling water, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 1/2 min, or until just tender. [The timing will depend on the thickness of the noodles.] Don't overcook them as they will soften a little more in the salad later on. Drain and refresh under cold water. Toss with a few drops of vegetable oil to stop the strands sticking together, then leave in a colander to drain really well.
3 Put the cooked noodles into a bowl and add the sauce, followed by the other ingredients one by one, mixing them briefly before adding the next, easing the noodle strands apart as you do so, as they have a tendency to stick together in one clump. Serve immediately.