Sumptuous, festive and generous. But simple and quick to make. It screams special because prawns are not everyday fare, and should impress your guests without breaking the bank. Buy a kilo of medium to large black tiger prawns. Trim their whiskers(?), leave the shells on, but cut into the shell where the digestive tract is and remove any poopy looking matter. Rinse prawns clean. Place in a non-reactive bowl (stainless or ceramic or glass) and cover with cool water and add 1 tablespoon of sea salt (not iodized) and mix a bit before placing this is the fridge for an hour or so. The brine will make your prawns more juicy. Take the prawns out of the fridge and drain and dry well with paper towels.
Place a wok or kawali over a strong burner and add 3-4 cups of vegetable oil. Turn the burner on high until the oil is very hot. In batches, so as not to crowd your fat and bring the temperature of the oil down too much, sprinkle prawns with some sifted cornstarch and deep fry for a minute or so until bright orange and the meat is just cooked but still juicy. Remove and drain on dry paper towels. Continue until all the prawns are fried. Then, add a new dry pan to the heat and wait for it to get hot. Add some good salt (I used kosher, you can also use sea salt, DO NOT use iodized salt) and freshly ground black pepper and all the fried prawns and toss just long enough for the salt and pepper to adhere to the prawns. Try adding a generous pinch of five-spice powder to the mix if you have it (a trick I learned from readers APM and Bettyq, I think) and serve immediately. If you are feeling lazy, you could just add the salt and pepper and cornstarch all at once, but there is something unique about the two pan approach – the prawns are crispy and chewy in the same bite, it’s hard to explain. But delicious and easy. This should serve 6 with other dishes at the dinner table. Enjoy! :)