Marinate these heat-packed prawns for at least a few hours so the chiles and garlic really come out, building slowly, after they've been grilled. And when grilling, brush the prawns with the remaining marinade so that the outside crisps and gets slightly caramelized. Give them a hefty squeeze of lime before serving: The acidity balances out the heat, char and salt.
To learn more, read "Brains and Prawn."
Vietnamese Sunbathing Prawns
Recipe from the Bryant Ng, Cassia, Los Angeles, CA
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes, plus marinating and chilling time
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes, plus marinating and chilling time
2 pounds head-on prawns
5 Fresno chiles
1 garlic head, peeled
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
½ cup chopped laksa leaf or cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges
1. Peel the shell off of the prawns' tails, leaving the heads and tips of the tails attached. Devein the prawns.
2. In a blender, blend the chiles, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, salt and 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until smooth. Place the prawns in a large shallow dish, then pour the marinade over them and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium-hot cooking or place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the grill with the remaining canola oil. Place the prawns on the grill, brushing with some of the remaining marinade. Cook the prawns, flipping once, until lightly charred, 2 minutes on each side. Place the prawns on a rimmed baking sheet or plate and transfer to the fridge to chill completely, 30 minutes.
4. Drizzle the chilled prawns with the olive oil and top with the laksa or cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges.