Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coconut and chili fried prawns, banana and figs with roasted winter vegetables and coconut milk and ginger reduction.

Oh... my... WORD.


This dinner was one of the most divine things I have created in a long time, and as such is the perfect recipe to use as my first Famished Fox post. In traditional Chinese Medicine, they say you should always have a balance of sweet, sour, bitterness and salt, and the same definitely goes for cooking. The sweetness of the coconut, fruits and sweet potato, mixed with the tart, sourness of the fresh lemon, the bitterness of the coriander and the saltiness of the prawns made this dish deeply satisfying and an absolute joy to eat. This particular dish is inspired by the coconut chili prawns my fella and I recently had in the Daintree Rainforest, but of course I have added a lot more to the recipe (ie, everything but the prawns) and packed it full of bio-available nutrients, fats, protein and enzymes.

Now let's get on with the good stuff! First of all, I want to say that not all FF recipes will be this complicated or fiddly, but I wanted something pretty special to kick things off...

Coconut and chili fried prawns, banana and figs with roasted winter vegetables and coconut milk and ginger reduction.

Serves 4-5

You will need:

Baked veg:

1 Tbsp grassfed ghee or butter
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 x sweet potato, chopped nto about 1 cm thick wedges
1 x red capsicum thinly sliced
1 x yellow capsicum, thinly sliced
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes

400 grams green prawns, deveined and peeled (leave tails on)
1 x banana, sliced
2 x fig, sliced
1 x egg, beaten lightly and set aside
4 Tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp hot chilli powder
2 Tbsp desiccated coconut
Good pinch Himalayan salt
Good pinch freshly ground pepper
Coconut oil to fry (you will need quite a bit)

Coconut and ginger reduction:
2 Tbsp coconut oil, grassfed butter or ghee
2 tbs chopped fresh ginger
1 x small chopped green chili (test for spice, this may be way too much or way too little, depending on your tastes and the strength of the chili)
1 x diced Spanish onion
Himalayan salt
1 x can organic coconut milk
Fresh coriander, chopped (about half a handful)

Brown rice:
1 x cup sprouted brown rice (sprouted grains are grains that have been soaked overnight to release the phytic acid, a known enzyme inhibitor in all grains)

To serve:
Fresh coriander, chopped (about half a handful)
Fresh lemon or lime


1. The night before you intend to make this dish, soak 1 x cup good quality, preferably organic brown rice in water and stand covered on your bench. Each grain of rice will release a small "sprout" after 12-14 hours of soaking. Rinse and allow to partially or completely dry before use.
2) Preheat your oven to 180 C.
3) Chop your sweet potato into 1cm wedges, and your red and yellow capsicum into thin strips and set aside.
4) Meanwhile, add the 1 Tbsp of ghee or butter and 1 Tbsp of coconut oil to a large roasting pan and set over a low stove until the two have just become a liquid. Add your sweet potato to the oil and ensure it is well coated, sprinkle liberally with himalayan salt and put into the oven.
5) Once the sweet potato is in the oven, start your rice. Brown rice requires 2 parts water to one part grain, so for one cup of rice, add two cups of room temperature water and set covered over high heat until it reaches boiling point. At this point, turn the temperature right down and let gently simmer for 45 minutes. Rice will need to be taken off the heat to sit for a further 10-15 minutes after this.
6) Mix your coconut flour, chili powder, desiccated coconut, himalayan salt and pepper in a bowl. Lightly beat the egg in a separate bowl.
7) Add your prawns to rapidly boiling water for no more than a minute, until only just cooked. Drain and set aside.
8) At this point, add your capsicum and cherry tomatoes to the sweet potatoes in the roasting tray in the oven. Here's what they'll look like when they're done:

9) In a small frying pan, begin your sauce by adding the onion, diced ginger, chopped green chili and extra chili powder if necessary (my chili was so mild we needed the extra kick of the powder) with either some ghee or coconut oil and fry with salt and pepper until translucent and fragrant - about 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk and let come to a boil and then reduce for a gentle simmer for the next 15 minutes - which is happily about how much time you will need for the rest of the recipe!

10) Dip prawns, banana and fig in the egg and coconut flour mixture respectively, and set aside.
11) Once the prawns and fruit are coated in the frying mixture and ready to become amazing, heat at least 2 Tbsp of coconut oil in a hot frying pan. Add the prawns and fruit in batches, turning after approximately a minute or after the coconut coating has turned golden brown. NB - between batches, it will be necessary to discard the blackened oil and add fresh coconut oil to the pan.

12) At this point, the coconut milk sauce should have reduced by about half and become thick and creamy, and you can now remove it from the heat and add the chopped coriander. Your rice should also be finished and your vegetables should be roasted to perfection. It's time to plate up!

13) Start with a mound of rice in the centre of the plate, and surround with your roasted vegetables. Smother both rice and veggies in the rich coconut ginger reduction, and then top with crunchy golden fried prawns, banana and figs. Finish off with some freshly chopped coriander and a lemon wedge. DIVINE.

And there you have it! A beautifully warming winter meal, packed with amazing tropical flavours, nourishing fats, protein and enzymes for happy digestion and happier assimilation into your body.

My geek notes:

Why so much fat?
My liberal use of coconut oil and ghee is based around the research of Dr Weston Price and Sally Fallon predominantly, although countless others have also researched and championed the topic extensively. The point, although controversial, is that good old fashioned animal protein (containing high amounts of fat, most of it saturated, and plenty of the much maligned cholesterol) are the cornerstones of a healthy, disease-free population and that in fact the "healthy" option of cheap, denatured, rancid vegetable oil spreads along with processed grains and sugars are the culprits for modern nutritional diseases. I will always use fat liberally in my recipes, and you will never see me use vegetable oil, refined sugars or refined grains. The emphasis in the diet should be on whole, complete foods, and there will be a LOT more on this topic in many entries to come :)

Why fry with Coconut Oil and Ghee?
The reason that I use coconut oil and ghee for high temperature frying as opposed to olive oil is that while olive oil is an extremely healthy oil to use in abundance, it is best for low-temperature sautees and used raw on salad dressings. The fat molecule in olive oil actually becomes denatured and rancid upon contact with high heat and can become an unrecognised and potentially harmful substance to the body. Best to eat olive oil fresh and in abundance, the way it was originally intended!

Why those particular vegetables?
The use for the particular colour scheme of the veggies I have in this dish is, apart from looking and tasting ridiculously good, it is the middle of winter, and yellow and orange vegetables are loaded with vitamin D, which we tend to be deficient in during the cooler months. Try substituting the sweet potato for pumpkin, carrot or yellow squash if you have difficulty processing starch.

Why sprout your rice?
While I tend to believe that grains can play an important role in a healthy diet (although not everyone tolerates them well), it is important to soak/sprout them before use. Whole grains contain a substance called phytic acid, which acts as an enzyme inhibitor, and not only prevents us from absorbing the wonderful nutritional properties of the grains they are present in, but will actually hinder absorbtion of the enzymes and nutrients from the entire meal they are eaten with. And wouldn't it be a shame to include all of those beautiful, vitamin-rich, nourishing fats and enzyme-laden vegetables only to not properly absorb and assimilate all of their goodness? People who experience slight indigestion or gas from grains will also usually find that sprouting grains prior to use eliminates this problem.

Why Ginger?
First of all, ginger crops up a lot in my recipes because I absolutely adore it. But secondly, ginger is known to aid digestion and circulation, and as this is a large meal (far too large to have every night, but ok on special occasions), a little bit of a digestional aid in the form of fresh ginger is always welcome. Anything that aids circulation and helps prevent cold hands and feet in winter is also a bonus!

There you have it, I hope you enjoyed this recipe and cook and share it with love.

Until next time,

FF xx

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