The indescribable aroma of fresh curry leaves is the secret behind many Indian dishes. You can either leave the curry leaves in the stir-fry or remove them before serving.
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 3 to 4
- 1 pound large prawns
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves (about 15 leaves)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large green chilies, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Rinse the prawns under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. (Do not remove the shells.) If using fresh curry leaves, strip the sprigs from the stem.
Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat until it is nearly smoking and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the minced ginger. Stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add the prawns. Stir-fry the prawns briefly, until the shells turn a bright pink. Splash the prawns with the rice wine or sherry during stir-frying.
Push the prawns to the sides of the wok or skillet. Add the butter, green chilies, curry leaves, and the garlic in the middle of the pan. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, mixing the seasonings with the butter. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Stir in the sugar and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another minute to mix the prawns with the coconut milk and seasonings. Garnish with the coconut flakes and cilantro before serving.
Curry leaves play a prominent role as a flavor enhancer in Indian cuisine, in the same way that bay leaves do in the West. While dried curry leaves can be used in long-simmered dishes, it's best to stick with fresh curry leaves for stir-fries. If the fresh leaves are unavailable, you can substitute fresh basil.