Paper-wrapped prawns

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is something I have eaten many times in the Viet Hoa Vietnamese restaurant in east London, but I have never managed to find a recipe for it.

This is something I have eaten many times in the Viet Hoa Vietnamese restaurant in east London, but I have never managed to find a recipe for it.

These prawn parcels do scarily resemble the money-bag shapes I was on about a couple of weeks ago (Independent Magazine, 29 May), but they taste good enough to overcome any off-putting 1970s flashbacks. They need rice paper for wrapping (not the type used for soft rolls in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, but the type you'll find in the baking section that's used for biscuits like macaroons). You wouldn't usually associate this with savoury cooking - but it works, as the top ruff of paper isn't cooked but still melts in the mouth the way rice paper does, while the stuffed part below is fried crisp.

400g raw headless king prawns, shelled and de-veined
1tsp galangal or root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1tsp finely chopped lemon grass
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 sheets of rice paper (they are generally 14 x 18cm and come in 25g packs)
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

for the dip

40ml Thai fish sauce
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2tsp finely chopped lemon grass

In a food processor, or by hand, coarsely chop the prawns then transfer to a bowl. Mix with the galangal, lemon grass, garlic and spring onions (which you can chop finely by hand or in a food processor, too) and season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat about 8cm of oil in a large heavy pan or deep-fat fryer to 160-180ºC/320-360ºF.

Mix the ingredients for the dip and put into a serving dip bowl. When you are ready to eat put about a dessert spoonful of the prawn mix into the centre of each piece of rice paper and gather the sides up to form one of those dreaded money-bag shapes and carefully pinch it together just above the ball of chopped meat. When they are all done, carefully drop them into the hot oil with the help of a slotted spoon about four at a time and cook them for about 3-4 minutes, turning them with the slotted spoon so they cook evenly, as they may float to the top. Remove and drain on some kitchen paper and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

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