Salt and pepper tiger prawns

Salt and pepper tiger prawns

The Food of Vietnam
Alan Benson

If you are ever on Phu Quoc island and can’t seem to find this dish in any restaurant, don’t worry. Just go to the fresh seafood market, buy yourself some juicy tiger prawns, take them to any street-food vendor or restaurant and ask them to make ‘Tom rang muoi’ for you. Be sure to leave the shells on, as the crispiness they add really makes this dish.


Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoons five-spice
1 teaspoon sugar
500ml vegetable oil
6 large raw tiger prawns, left unpeeled
250g cornflour or potato starch
1 tablespoon red asian shallot, finely diced
1 tablespoon garlic, finely diced
2 red chillies, sliced
4 spring onions, sliced into 4 cm lengths
1 lime, halved or quartered


  1. Dry roast the salt, pepper and five-spice in a frying pan or wok until fragrant. Tip the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool. Add the sugar, mix well and set aside to infuse.
  2. Add the oil to a large wok or deep frying pan and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.
  3. Dust the whole prawns with the cornflour. Add only two prawns at a time to the hot oil, to keep the oil at a constant high heat. Cook for 2–3 minutes, then remove the prawns using metal tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining prawns.
  4. Bring a frying pan to medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the prawn cooking oil, then add the shallot, garlic, chilli and spring onion and cook until fragrant.
  5. Now add the prawns, tossing as you sprinkle them with the toasted five-spice mix, making sure you coat the prawns well.
  6. Remove the prawns to a bowl. Top with the spring onion mixture from the pan and serve with the lime for squeezing over.
The Food of Vietnam
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