At the grocery store the other day, they had some particularly large shrimp, which are perfect for this recipe. Called “caramel shrimp” in The Vietnamese Collection cookbook by Jackum Brown, these are basically shrimp with palm-sugar sauce. And they’re really good.
To make these, you’ll need the palm-sugar sauce, which is really easy to make:
Take 125g (4 oz) of shaved palm sugar and 150ml (cup) of water and mix them in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture becomes like a syrup. My recipe book says it takes 3 minutes, but I cooked mine for about 15 to get the right consistency. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days, if covered.
Try to use as large of shrimp as you can find for this recipe.
What you’ll need
- 125g (4 oz) palm sugar (from above)
- 1.5t neutral oil
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small Thai chili, finely sliced (you can remove the seeds for less heat)
- 1 lb. raw prawns, peeled and deveined
- 1t ground black pepper
- 0.5t salt
- 1-2T palm-sugar sauce
- Chopped cilantro leaves or sliced green onions as an optional garnish
What to do
Make the palm-sugar sauce, if you haven’t already.
Make sure to have your mise en place ready. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high and stir-fry the garlic and chili for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to scorch the garlic. If you do, start over because burnt garlic is bitter and it would ruin the dish.
After stir-frying the garlic and chili, add the prawns and pepper, cooking them for about a minute, until the shrimp is pink and fully cooked. Add the salt and palm-sugar sauce and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
Serve hot over a bed of rice, topped with cilantro, green onions, or both.