I can feel this turning into a recipe blog. I promise that the post after next will be a progress update on teaching myself German. For now, today’s recipe is a simple dish featuring prawn/shrimp and cucumbers – any hard vegetable will do, though, and there are some asparagus pieces in the photo below.
Prawn, shrimp – I can’t tell the difference between the two, and Wikipedia says there isn’t any real difference – tends to be far overcooked in our school dining halls, probably due to liability minimization reasons. This is probably the worst thing you can intentionally do to a prawn that you’re going to eat. The whole point of prawn is its springiness, juiciness and sweetness: overcooking not only turns it tough and dry but also robs it of all flavor.
Repeat after me: I will not be afraid of undercooking prawn. Prawn cooks extremely quickly and undercooking is pretty much impossible if you can clearly see what you’re doing. The danger lies in using prawn that has gone bad. In fact, I just tossed $8 of prawn – it was in the fridge, I’d forgotten about it for 4 days, and some of it was starting to turn orange. Most of it still seemed okay, and it smelled fine actually, but I’d rather lose $8 than get food poisoning from being inexperienced with seafood. And now that the lesson’s been seared into my head with a loss, I’ll remember to cook prawn quickly after buying it in the future.
I would also taste the soy sauce you have on hand first just to check its saltiness. The soy sauce I have with me right now was donated by a friend and different from the lower-sodium ‘light’ kind I have at home. Unfortunately I did not realize this (well that and it was my first time cooking with soy sauce) and added too much. Thankfully, cucumber, like potato, will suck saltiness right up, and the slices saved the prawn from being too salty. We then treated the cucumber slices as though they were pickled and just paired them with a lot of rice – not bad at all, actually.
Prawn and cucumber in soy sauce
- prawn/shrimp, raw – make sure it’s safe first!
- cucumber, cut into strips
- soy sauce
- garlic, finely chopped
- vegetable oil
- black pepper (optional)
- Heat up a frying pan/wok and add a small amount of oil when hot.
- Add garlic (adjust amount depending on personal preference) and quickly stir-fry until you can smell it.
- Add cucumber and cook till a little soft.
- Add prawn; add a splash of soy sauce and some black pepper if desired. The black pepper is going to be discarded when you peel the prawns anyway, but I think it does help the flavor.
- Wait until prawns are cooked. Flip to make sure they’re done evenly. In theory prawns are cooked when they change color completely and the flesh is all opaque white – leave them on for a minute and a half afterwards if you’re uncertain, as I did. But no more!
- Add a very small amount of water to dilute the soy sauce. Remove from heat.
Previous recipe: Simple black pepper teriyaki pork stir-fry