Sizzling prawns in a savoury crust, with cool watermelon. A supper of contrasts.
In a shallow bowl, mix together 3 tbsp of Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, 2 level tsp of dried chilli flakes, a grinding of black pepper and a couple of good pinches of sugar. Put 250g of medium-sized or large peeled prawns into the marinade and set aside for 30 minutes.
Peel a large and thoroughly chilled wedge of watermelon – about 750g in weight – and slice into pieces roughly 0.5cm in thickness, picking out the seeds with a point of a knife as you go. Put the pieces of melon on a serving plate. Mix together the juice of a lime, a handful of (about 12) finely chopped mint leaves and, if you wish, a handful of coriander leaves then toss the melon in it.
Sprinkle 5 tbsp of rice flour over the prawns and toss them around. They will be coated in a very light batter. It is fine if it goes a little lumpy – like tempura.
Heat 200ml of groundnut oil in a shallow pan or wok, add the prawns and let them fry for 2 or 3 minutes till golden, turn and repeat for a further minute till golden and lightly crisp.
Remove the prawns from the heat and scatter over the chilled watermelon and serve. Enough for 2
The joy of this is the contrast between each mouthful of hot, umami-rich prawns and ice-cold watermelon. They should be eaten together and I suggest getting the melon thoroughly cold and ready to be tossed with the prawns as they come sizzling from the pan.
If some of the rice flour batter falls off during cooking, let it crisp a little in the pan then scatter over the salad with the prawns.
This is a light main dish. I like to serve it among other dishes, such as a bowl of jasmine rice and some slices of grilled or baked squash.