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Prawn Ravioli with Lemongrass Broth

September 20, 2007

A couple of years ago I had dinner at a teppanyaki restaurant. The chef put on the usual pyrotechnic display of impeccable implement control. As we enjoyed our prawns, he asked if we would like the heads. Game to try anything one, we nodded yes and he was soon flattening on the hotplate, squeezing them till the juices ran, turning them over and crisping them up.

He delivered the sizzling hot delicacies and we were really blown away by them. They were crunchy and delicious and totally full of flavour. A bit like the crustacean version of crackling.

I thought about those prawn heads when I was constructing today’s recipe. I’d bought half a kilo of whole green prawns and it seemed a shame to let 40 percent of my purchase go to waste. I emulated the teppanyaki chef and while my skill didn’t match his, frying the heads in a hot pan first certainly added such a wonderful depth of flavour to the lemongrass broth.

If you can’t find tamarind concentrate, just put some block tamarind in hot water, massage to pick out the seeds, strain and use the liquid.

This dish makes a wonderful spring entrée.

Prawn Ravioli with Lemongrass Broth

500g green prawns
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 small hot pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves very finely shredded then chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1 500g packet of wonton wrappers
1 egg, whisked

Peel and devein the uncooked prawns (this will yield about 300g prawn meat). Save the heads and shells.

Using a knife, chop the prawns to a fine mince consistency. Don’t be tempted to use the food processor. Add the onion, hot pepper, lime leaves, fish sauce and coriander. Set aside in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the flavours to develop.

Separate the wonton wrappers and place about a dozen at a time on a flat surface. Put a teaspoon of the prawn mince in the centre of each wrapper. Brush some of the beaten egg over the exposed wrapper. Top with another square and press down to seal, taking care to push out any air bubbles (which might otherwise expand during cooking and cause the filling to leak out).  Stamp into circles with a ravioli cutter or use a fluted cookie cutter.  Place on a tray and refrigerate until required. Makes approximately three dozen.

Lemongrass Broth

1 tablespoon canola oil
prawn heads and shells
3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 long medium-hot chilli, chopped in three
2 spring onions, roughly sliced
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup fish sauce
1.25 litres of water
juice of one medium lemon

Wash and drain the prawn shells and heads. Heat the oil in a deep pan then toss in the heads. Saute over a medium hot heat until they start to colour. Press down on the heads with a potato masher to crush them so they start exuding their juices. Add the shells and keep turning for four or five minutes, being careful not to let them burn.  Add the water then stir in the lemongrass, lime leaves, chilli, spring onions, tamarind concentrate and fish sauce.

Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until reduced by about half. Add the lemon juice and check the seasoning.

Strain through a sieve then strain the liquid again through a double layer of muslin or through a new fine fibre kitchen cloth. Reheat while the ravioli cook, then pour into a jug for serving.

Bring a large pasta pot of salted water to the boil then add the ravioli, loosening them from the bottom of the perforated basket if necessary. Bring back to the boil and continue cooking until all the ravioli rise to the surface. This will take four or five minutes. Drain well.

Place several ravioli into a shallow soup bowl and pour over some of the broth. Garnish with fresh coriander and a little finely sliced chilli.

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