Friday, 14 May 2010

Prawn Yesterday

I have a confession to make.
Remember yesterday that I said I thought that we should get free booze as a reward for keeping our families well-fed and healthy?
Well I told my husband about that and so today when we got to the cash register at the grocery store I grabbed a bottle of really good ale I'd been lusting after. (No, I'm not a bearded 50 year old farmer with a pipe, I'm just a gal who missed English ales for 20 years who indulges occasionally.)
I got back from the store and put away my spoils, updated the menu on the kitchen calendar and went out to the garden to check on/chat with my seedlings and sprouts, carrying my bottle of ale with me.

Did I mention that it is about 1:00pm at this point? (But it's 6:00 O'clock in Yekaterinburg.)

So it went like this:

Sip, Sip, "Hello little corn plants! I see you're doing well. in a couple of weeks you'll be able to live outside!" sip... sip...

Sip, "Hi radishes! my goodness look at you! You're doing ever so well in spite of this cloudy weather. You'll be tasty in some salads in no time. sip, sip, sip....

Sip, "Asparagus! Why do weeds love growing around you so much?? (sip, sip)  Look at the beetroots and garlic! No weeds there, so what are you doing?" Sip, sip, sip......sip

And so on and so on. Sip.

It's 2:00pm now and I am what you might call three sheets to the wind. I looked at the alcohol content (4.9%) and the back of the bottle and it turns out, I just drank 2.45 units of alcohol in the middle of the week. At Lunchtime. Alone. Without eating lunch.
Part of me is ashamed, but the rest of me thinks it's pretty awesome and like I'm getting away with something. Something that I will not make a habit of though, because I keep having to go back and fix typing errors.
I am also aware that I will probably have a hangover at around 5:00pm.

Anyway, on with the cooking.
Last night I made this tasty and quick Thai prawn and noodle dish. Bright with the flavours of fresh lime, lemongrass and coriander it's a delightful Spring evening meal.
I used wide rice noodles, which are lovely but chin-slappy, so rice vermicelli might be a better idea if you like a dry face.

Coconut Prawn Noodle Soup
serves 4, takes less than 45 minutes

1 can organic coconut milk
1 can water
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and roughly chopped
2 thumb-sized pieces galangal thinly sliced
2 shallots, chopped
2 red chillies, sliced
6 lime leaves (fresh or dried)
400g (14oz) large, uncooked prawns, peeled and deveined
300g (10.5oz) rice noodles
juice of 3 limes
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp flavourless oil such as ground nut or sunflower
green tops from two bunches of pak choi, sliced thinly (reserve the white parts for another use)

Prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, more than likely pouring boiling water over them and allowing them to soften before draining and refreshing with cold water. Divide the noodles into four bowls and set aside.
Sweat the shallots, galangal, chili, lemongrass and lime leaves together in a medium saucepan until soft and beginning to colour. Add the coconut milk, palm sugar, water and the fish sauce and bring up to the simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced and is very fragrant.
Strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing on the vegetables to squeeze out all the flavour.
Return the liquid to the pan and bring up to a simmer again and add the prawns. Cook for 2-3 minutes (depending on their size) until almost cooked then add the pak choi, cooking for half a minute more.
Squeeze the lime juice into the pan and give it a quick taste to check the sweet, spicy, sour and salty harmony, adding more sugar, cayenne pepper, lime juice or fish sauce if necessary.

Ladle the broth, prawns and pak choi over the noodles and scatter with coriander leaves before serving.


  1. Hilarious! It would take a lot less than that to give me a hangover! The prawns look lovely. I'm crazy about lemongrass with coconut...Mmmmm!

  2. I would've loved to have been a part of your impromptu Happy Hour!

    Soup does wonders for a hangover, too :)

    Chin-slappy noodles...too funny and SO true.

  3. Hey Emily,

    I used to go out for lunch and get pretty tipsy when i worked at the local alternative newspaper here. Sometimes a co-worker would pass my table at the local health food restaurant/store that also carried an array of very nice brews, and look at me like I was straight up crazy. i didn't care though-I like drinking in controlled amounts (not moderation-it's too boring)...

    Soup looks great by the way! Oh, and chin slappy noodles bother me. I might try this with vermicelli.

  4. Yep! I think that next time I will do this with rice vermicelli. I bought some at a Thai grocer in Camden yesterday for exactly that reason.
    Ali, I thought about you when I was sipping actually. :-)
    I used to love to drink at lunch but I am pretty much useless if I do. 2:00pm booze is twice as strong as 8:00pm booze.

  5. ha ha ha didn't you share the ale with your asparagus and radish?