This recipe as originally written was not long. It was not technical, or tedious, nor did it require any special equipment. However, in my drive to always reduce recipes to the lowest common denominator and strip out as many extra steps as possible I thought, in my wisdom, I could make it even easier. Toast the coconut, then tip it out of the pan onto some paper towel and add it back in at the end? What a fa-diddle. Far easier to just throw everything in together, I thought. And it was. Well, marginally easier anyway. But given I used a total of three saucepans for this meal, once the rice and spinach were cooked as well, and spent time carefully measuring out spices for the side dish, the extra step of toasting the coconut really wouldn’t have been too much effort. The result? I hesitate to say “ho-hum”, it was definitely better than that, but with crunchy coconut that actually tastes, well, of coconut, rather than slightly soggy coconut that tastes slightly soggy, it would have been even better.
Even without my mangling of the recipe this is a stupidly quick meal to prepare, almost criminally so, and if you keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer, one that can be thrown together (after the coconut’s been toasted I mean) without a trip to the shops.
Use any kind of sweet spirit you have on hand for the shrimp, be it rum, brandy or even a splash of madeira (not technically a spirit, I know).
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
250g prawns, deveined
3 spring onions, white and green bits, chopped
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed chillies
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
400g spinach, rinsed and spun or patted dry
1. Set a frying pan over a high heat and add the desiccated coconut. Toast for about a minute, or until middling to dark brown. Don’t allow it to burn though, so give the pan a few good shakes while the coconut is cooking to make sure it gets evenly browned. Tip the coconut out of the pan and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan place the crushed chillies, cumin seeds and black mustard seeds. Toast over a medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until the mustard seeds start to pop. Don’t let the spices burn. Add the butter and the garlic to the pan, cook for another 30 seconds or until the butter is just melted and starting to bubble, then add the spinach and pat down with a spatula so as much of it is as close to the heat source as possible. Leave the spinach to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally so the spices don’t burn on the bottom of the pan, until the spinach has just wilted down into what looks like a ridiculously small volume. Remove from the heat immediately.
3. Return the frying pan to the heat, add a drizzle of oil and when it starts to shimmer add the prawns. Cook quickly over the heat for about a minute, give the pan a shake to turn them over and cook for another minute. Add the spring onions to the pan, cook for a further 30 seconds then pour in the brandy. This should sizzle and steam and then bubble down into a sticky saucey glaze, in the space of about 30-45 seconds. Once the brandy has turned into said sticky, saucey glaze add the butter, give the pan a stir or a shake until the butter has melted, then add the toasted coconut back in. Give the pan one final shake and stir, so the coconut is well mixed in, then serve the shrimp immediately with jasmine rice, and the sticky, saucey glaze drizzled over the top, with the spicy spinach on the side.