Spring has truly sprung this month, and we’re embracing this with a splash of seasonal colour & flavours with our vibrant spring dishes at our restaurants. Find out more here!
Today, I’m sharing with you my recipe for Stir-Fried Shrimps with Red Chard – a very simple yet effective starter, and I particularly like the way the umami-rich prawn flavour is intensified by the dried shrimp paste. It’s a clever piece of traditional cooking, and the addition of red chard at the end adds a fresh touch.
Serves 6 as a starter, 10 for canapes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
- 1kg raw deveined and peeled shrimps or tiny prawns
- 300g red-veined chard leaves, washed and drained
- Juice of ½ lemon
For the Bengali shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1cm piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 green cardamom pod
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 50g tiny peeled shrimps, thawed if frozen, and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp dried shrimps, soaked in warm water for 15 mins and drained
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tap ground turmeric
- 125ml coconut milk
- 1 green chilli, slit lengthways
- ½ tsp Bengali Garam Masala
- Juice of ½ lemon
For the Bengali shrimp paste, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cardamom pod and cumin seeds and fry for 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger and garlic paste, salt and sugar and continue cooking. When the onion is translucent add the fresh and dried shrimps and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and the chilli powder, ground cumin and turmeric and cook until the tomatoes become soft and oil starts to float on the side.
Add the coconut milk and the green chilli and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Bengali garam masala and the lemon juice. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender or food processor and blend. Leave to cool, cover, then store in a refrigerator until ready for use.
To finish the dish, heat the oil in a large, heavy based frying pan or wok until very hot. Add the shrimps and stir-fry for a minute or so. When they turn pink, stir in the Bengali shrimp paste, then correct seasoning, if necessary. Finally, throw in the red chard leaves and continue stirring just until they wilt. Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve immediately in bowls as a starter, or spear them with cocktail sticks and pass around as a snack with drinks.