Salt and Pepper Prawns – It’s a mathematical problem.

Salt and pepper prawns (14 of 15)

This is the second in my mini series dedicated to showing some really easy and extremely tasty Chinese inspired dishes. But, before we get into that, I have a bit of a problem. A few years ago, one of the media statisticians in our business was presented with a list of numbers and a simple question; Which is the odd one out?

2

4

9

16

27

28

31

44

Being a bit of a boffin (no relation) he got to thinking about the problem. He opened a spreadsheet and got to work…

He ran the numbers every which way and could not come up with the answer. He paced his office in the evening trying different permutations and combinations. “Is it 28? That’s 4 by 9 minus the second number, 4… No, damn it! That doesn’t make sense.” “Is it 44 because it’s the 8th number. That’s 4 and 4. No, that can’t be it either. Damn, damn, damn…”  So it went far into the night. Do you fancy giving it a go while I prepare my take on Salt and Pepper Prawns?

Whenever we have a prawn dish, I also have a problem with the maths. How many prawns each? I see some recipes recommending 4 per person, others 10. I tend to go for 6 and then throw a few extra in “for the pot”. This assumes a decent size of prawn. Anything smaller and we have to up the numbers.

These frozen Argentinian prawns. Don't get brain freeze. Work it out!

These are frozen Argentinian prawns. – Don’t get brain freeze. Work it out!

For my ingredients list:

  • 16 good-sized prawns (feeding two)
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 chili pepper or two
  • An inch of ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic (or one single clove bulb)
  • A twist or two (or a big pinch or two of salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of Szechuan pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cornstarch (corn flour) dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 handful of coriander (cilantro)

Chop the spring onions.

Vegetable slicing meets arty-farty part one - The spring onions

Vegetable slicing meets arty-farty part one – Chop the spring onions

Chop the ginger.

Vegetable slicing meets arty-farty part two. Chop the ginger.

Vegetable slicing meets arty-farty part two. Chop the ginger.

Chop the garlic didn’t make the cut (pardon the pun) so we go straight to: Chop the chili.

Vegetable slicing meets arty-farty part three - Chop the chili.

Vegetable slicing meets arty-farty part three – Chop the chili.

Side note of frustration: Is there a clue in there being three of four potential vegetable chopping pictures? Perhaps…

Mix the corn flour with the salt and Szechuan pepper. There is a lot of twisting to get that much of the pepper ground. Twisting like the mathematicians amongst you.

The pepper has a unique flavour. Well worth getting it for the cupboard.

The Szechuan pepper has a unique flavour. Well worth getting it for the cupboard.

Pour the soy into a ‘photographer’s bowl (one with the front cut away).

I love a good pouring shot.

I love a good pouring shot.

Add the honey.

Like I said, I love a good pouring shot.

Like I said, I love a good pouring shot.

Toss the raw prawns in the flour/pepper/salt mixture.

Get them coated good and proper. 8 each. Could that be a clue?

Get them coated good and proper. 8 each. Could that be a clue?

Get your wok good and hot. Add some oil and fry the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add the chili and stir until the flavours start to rise. Add the prawns. Stir these while adding the rice wine, taking photographs and chopping the coriander.

This is a great dish to cook while you are hungry because it takes very little time.

This is a great dish to cook while you are hungry because it takes very little time.

Stir for a minute and add the soy and honey mixture.

It's hard to photo a dark mixture pouring into a dark wok while stirring.

It’s hard to photo a dark mixture pouring into a dark wok while stirring.

Add the coriander and turn off the heat. Whatever you do, don’t over-cook the prawns.

Delicious heady aromas from the coriander just before you serve.

Delicious heady aromas from the coriander just before you serve.

Serve the prawns over rice. Top with the sauce and a coriander leaf or two.

These are nice and hot and the Szechuan pepper adds an extra dimension.

These are nice and hot and the Szechuan pepper adds an extra dimension.

That’s about it. Simple, tasty Oriental cooking. Look out for part three in the series, coming soon.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The answer to the conundrum above. The number is 31.

The rest come with fried rice and a free portion of prawn crackers…

Written by
Latest comments
  • Hi Conor, great photographs and definitely a Friday night recipe.
    Brian

    • Thanks Brian,
      Very kind of you to say so.

  • I’d opt for the prawns – they look delicious 🙂

  • That looks delicious!

  • Great idea for a series. I love Chinese food but don’t have any great recipes. Can’t wait to try this one!

    • This one is very easy and has nice layers of flavour. Give it a go.

  • Did it – it’s 31 because its the only prime number (I am surrounded by Pricing Analysts and Management Accountants). Nice prawn creation and you are really going for it with the crockery…

    • Oh no – 2 is a prime number too!

    • You may be right but your methodology is wrong.

      • Damnation. This is causing serious angst.

        • The very last line…

          • yes we just got it. Serves me right for reading blogs at work

        • Thats not fair I just read the last sentence, However that doesnt mean I am going to tell anyone at work.

          • Way back in the day, one guy spent two entire days trying to work it out. He nearly cried when he was told.

          • I want to reblog or whatever its called on my site do you mind

          • Work away. All in the best possible taste!

          • But you might want to delete the comments re what the answer is.

          • Hopefully, they will read it first!

          • Okay I will make the point of making sure to read it.

  • What a knife and what a dish – it looks so delicious, Conor. Hope the cycling is treating you well!

    • Thanks Nick,
      I haven’t been out for a while now. I am in need of some mountain air to clear my fuzzy head.

  • What gorgeous photography Conor! And what a dish! LOVE it! I will be making this one soon.

    • Thanks Lidia,
      It was a simple enough post. I was happy with the plated pic (for once).

  • Wonderful step by step photos Conor. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten anything with Szechuan peppercorns but I do love them. I laughed out loud at the mathematical problem. Haha… tend to calculate around 150g shelled or 200g with shells and heads on per person. Seems to work so far!

    • Thanks Laura,
      The old one are best (jokes, not prawns).

  • Those plates are gorgeous, and the prawns are mouth watering too..

    • Thanks Mama Miyuki. We have the plates for nearly 25 years. They don’t get used often enough.

  • So why is the answer to the puzzle 31? It has been bothering me all day!

  • Reblogged this on Happiness Stan Lives Here and commented:
    Conor Bofin, he of the man meat, produces some delicious food and some delicious photography. In this post he adds an extra ingredient – a puzzle. Please have a go. The result will surprise you.

  • I thought it was 31…

  • Honestly gave up on the maths puzzle and focused on the prawns. When they looked that good it was hard not to.

    • Focus on the end of the post. All will be revealed.

  • Like the prawns, the combination of flavors, and the photos. I think Kees would like the numerical problem 🙂 Good stuff!

    • Thanks Stefan. Good to see you back in the kitchen.

  • Fun math problem and tasty Asian inspired recipe. Love the flavor combination and the ease by which you can put this together. A perfect weeknight meal. 🙂

    • Thanks Richard. A problem to chew on, for sure.

  • Great recipe: like the use of the Szechuan peppercorns rather than just black pepper . . . here we eat and awful lot of salt-and-pepper squid rather than prawns. . . Well, I ‘guessed’ 31 too for a very primitive reason: I could divide every other one by another given: ie the prime number saga too 🙂 !

  • Ah! What a great problem. Very tricky that it’s actually a word problem and not just a number problem. And by my calculations, that’s a pretty great dish. Although if I were to make this I’d insist on calling them shrimp. I know, silly American. But at least I get the puzzle!

    • Thanks Tommy, Call them anything you like but do try it. Very tasty and very easy to do.
      Best,
      C

  • This looks like a great dish, Conor. I shy away form Chinese recipes because they often require so much prep work and ingredients that I don’t normally have. This recipe, though, isn’t like that at all and a good prawn dish is a thing of beauty. 🙂

    • Chinese generally has what I like to think of as pressure points in the cooking processes. There can be a lot of therapeutic preparation (peeling, slicing, shredding) followed by the crunch point in quick cooking. It does require military style organisation around the cooker.

  • lovely, simple, genius

    • Thank you. It’s a long time since I was called a genius. I like that!

  • How do you always do it “Boss style”? – I get charmed, mesmerized, dazzled, delighted the moment I pop over your post. Every flipping time!
    Nice pictures with flawless clarity and realness.

    Super lovely recipe. Wish I could be your neighbor..I could have sneaked into your kitchen to witness all the knife and magic actions 🙂
    Love.

    • Too kind as always Nusrat. Far too kind. I look forward to your moving in next door.

  • Wonderful recipe and photographs. My mouth is watering.

    • Thank you. The recipe is a very simple one and really easy to execute. It has to be for me to do it!

  • Laughing at #31. Perfect story for your dish of salt and pepper prawns. Lovely photography.

    • Thanks Maureen and thanks for visiting.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Salt & Pepper prawns are a staple for my annual Chinese New Years feast. Except I do mine fried IN the shell and then tossed with the dry ingredients.
    This looks like a lovely variation. And, as always, your photos are a delight.

    • Too kind indeed. Thank you. I like the dry fried too but the cooking pepper always catches in my throat and makes me cough and cry.

  • Ha! I’m going to email this maths ‘problem’ to the staff. I’d offer a pay rise to the first to ‘solve’ it but fear I may get lynched….Big fan of ‘salt and pepper’ style dishes as opposed to some of the day-glow sauces served by some restaurants. Looks delicious Connor.

    • Thanks Phil,
      It was a bit of fun to do. 100% with you on the shop sauces.
      Best,
      Conor

  • looks delicious. And now I have the numbers to play for the lottery this Saturday… 😉

    • Now that’s a great idea. Just don’t play number 31.

  • Yummy!

  • This looks simply delicious! Some nights I love making Asian food at home rather than ordering take out. (Other nights take out is easy and fun) The next time I am making Asian at home, I will try this recipe. Thank you – and it looks beautiful.

    • Thanks Heather,
      It is very simple and we certainly found it toothsome (love that old world word).

Join the conversation, you know you want to....

%d bloggers like this: