Prawns in banana leaves
Banana leaves are used throughout Asia to wrap foods for steaming or baking. They keep the food moist and impart a mild flavour. Buy them from Asian food stores if you don't have access to fresh leaves.
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- 2.5 cm (1 inch) piece ginger, grated
- 2 small red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
- 4 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
- 2 lemon grass stems, white part only, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) raw prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
- 8 small banana leaves
- boiling water, for soaking
1. Put the ginger, chilli, spring onion and lemon grass in a food processor and pulse in short bursts until a paste forms (alternatively, you can do this in a mortar and pestle). Transfer the paste to a bowl, then stir in the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, sesame seeds and coriander and mix well. Add the prawns and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, put the banana leaves in a large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave them to soak for 3 minutes, or until softened. Drain and pat dry. Cut the banana leaves into 18 cm (7 inch) squares.
3. Divide the prawn mixture into eight, and place one portion on each square of banana leaf. Fold the leaf to enclose the mixture, and then secure the parcels with a wooden skewer. Put the parcels in a steamer and cover with a lid. Sit the steamer over a wok or saucepan of boiling water and steam for 8–10 minutes, or until the filling is cooked.