Recipe: Korean Prawn Rice Bowl with Sesame Pak Choi
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but most of the food I cook for myself at home when I’m not working on new recipes is Korean food. People think this is a bit unusual (until they find out I lived in Los Angeles, then it totally makes sense), and then unattainable. Yes, learning how to work with Korean flavours can be a bit daunting (toasted sesame oil is the only core ingredient you can easily find in every supermarket), so today I thought I’d share a quick and easy weeknight I’ve had a couple of times over the past few weeks, that does not involve any specialist ingredients: Korean, pan fried prawns that take only minutes to do, sweet and sticky Jasmine rice, and slightly Japanese, slightly Korean sesame pak choi which is my go-to Asian side vegetable.
A few little ingredient notes. While fresh raw prawns look very pretty on the fish counter or in their supermarket packet, buy frozen. There are two reasons why you should do this. First, prawns deteriorate really quickly once they’re caught. Many of the prawns you buy frozen are actually processed and frozen still out at sea, so they have had less of a chance to be anything but fresh. They’re also much cheaper to buy this way, and you won’t be as much of a slave to sell by dates.
Second, when you buy baby pak choi at the supermarket, it is bloody expensive, about £2 for three little heads. While this is okay for the occasional meal, if you live near a big Asian supermarket with a grocery section, look there first. I buy my baby pak choi by the big bagful in Chinatown (I get it at the big Asian grocery on Gerrard Street, the one with the big fresh fish counter at the back, which has the better vegetable selection) where I get about 10 times that for £2, that lasts for ages in the fridge.
I’ve adapted these prawns from my Korean cooking bible, Our Korean Kitchen (which I’ll be reviewing in full in an upcoming post). What first drew me to them was that I did not need any kimchee juice, gochujang chilli paste or gochugaru (you can read more about the basic Korean ingredients I keep in my kitchen in my post on Asian ingredients), but things I always have at home (and things you usually have too). They also taste delicious cold, so are good over rice in a lunchbox the next day, so much so that this recipe makes two portions, because I love to pack the second bowl up for the office to enjoy later in the week.
- 110g Jasmine Rice
- Heaped 1/2 tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
- 2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tsp Runny Honey
- Splash Groundnut Oil
- 150g Raw King Prawns (defrosted if frozen)
- 1 Spring Onion, finely sliced
- Small Handful Toasted Pine Nuts, roughly chopped (optional)
For the Sesame Pak Choi
- 6 Baby Pak Choi
- Sea Salt
- Splash Toasted Sesame Oil
- Black Sesame Seeds
Cook the jasmine rice in a small saucepan as per the packets instructions. Combine the fresh ginger, soy sauce, 2 tsp of the sesame oil and the honey together to make a marinade. To start the sesame pak choi, separate each piece from the stem, and discard the hard middle. Place the in a large bowl, and pour over a kettle of boiling water so that they are completely submerged. Leave them to blanch.
When the rice is almost ready, heat a splash of groundnut oil in a small frying pan, and add the prawns, drained well and patted dry on a piece of kitchen towel to remove any excess moisture. While they’re cooking, drain the pak choi of as much excess water as possible. After the prawns have become slightly pink on one side, add the marinade and flip them over. Allow the prawns to cook through int he marinade which should cook down to a slightly sticky, slightly glossy liquid.
To serve, divide the rice between two bowls, and top with the prawns, garnished with the chopped spring onions and pine nuts. Toss the pak choi with a dash of sesame oil, a generous amount of sea salt, and a good sprinkling of sesame seeds (bonus points if you’ve found a tub of those already toasted ones at the Asian grocery), and serve immediately, as blanched veggies cool down very quickly.
Friday nights for me have rapidly become for me Asian food and a Tiger beer after work while I watch Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and The Catch (#TGIT!), and depending on my mood I order in (if you’re in SE1 my favourite so far is Firecracker on UberEats, you can get £10 off of your first order with my code eats-ubermissrachelphippssue) or make something myself. For a bit more Asian evening inspiration, why not try my Korean Pork Belly Bun Bowls, Asian Butter Bean Salad, Vietnamese Steak Salad Rolls or my Homemade Sesame Prawn Toasts. Also, if you don’t mind waiting until August 3rd, don’t forget to pre-order my book Student Eats to get your hands on my go-to recipes for Pea, Prawn & Mushroom Egg Fried Rice, Pad Thai and a Chicken Noodle & Oyster Sauce Stir-Fry.