Thursday, 11 June 2009
Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music, Ad Infinitum...
I admit that when I first cooked this dish I realised too late that I was missing two valuable ingredients: spring onions and shell-on raw prawns. I did have peeled prawns, though, but it was not the same. Since then I have made amends and now I can vouch for this recipe's delicious taste. And my favourite bit, besides eating it, of course? The aroma whilst it's cooking. It's just superb. And yes, it's yet another Nigel Slater's recipe. This blog, and this section in particular, is a fervent follower of Nigel Slater. The full description below has been copied and pasted from his regular column in The Observer newspaper, a publication for which he has written for sixteen years.
Prawns with Sichuan peppercorns and spring onions
2 fresh hot red chillies
a tsp Sichuan peppercorns
a large pinch of sugar
2 tsp of finely minced (or very finely chopped) ginger
4 cloves of garlic
6 spring onions
6 tbsp groundnut oil
400g large, shell-on raw prawns
Halve the chillies, scrape out the seeds, chop the flesh finely, and put into a small bowl. Put the peppercorns into a non-stick frying pan and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. Tip them out and grind to a fine powder using a spice mill or a pestle and mortar. Add to the chillies with the sugar, minced ginger and a teaspoon of sea salt.
Peel and finely chop the garlic. Trim the spring onions and chop them into fine pieces then add, with the garlic, to the chillies.
Pour the oil into a wok and get it smoking hot. Lower in the prawns and let them cook for a minute, then lift them out with a draining spoon. Add the chilli mixture to the wok and stir it round for a minute or less as it sizzles, so it does not burn.
Return the prawns to the pan, continue cooking for a couple of minutes, then serve immediately and eat while hot and peppery.
The music I selected to go with this dish is also full of aromas. Give me Azam Ali's voice any time. It brings much solace and warmth to my soul, just like this dish.
Cassandra Wilson's take on this Bob Marley's classic is, in my humble opinion, a classic itself.
Frank Black, who is one of the few performers I have heard doing an excellent version of 'Dirty Old Town', regales us a tune that burns your insides in the same way those chillies and ginger seethe on the pan.
And last but not least, a good old tango, because whenever I'm cooking a simple dish as the one above I have simple but deep music on in the background. And Astor Piazzolla is one of those artists who is capable of bringing the full flavour of music to any song he performs, just like spring onions and garlic. Enjoy.
Next post: 'Song for a Summer Sunday Morning' to be published on Sunday 14th June at 10am (GMT)