Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thai Basil And Black Pepper Prawns 黑椒九層塔蝦

I came up with this recipe while I was living in Kuching, Sarawak. Many years of living in Singapore and half of that time above The Concourse on Bridge Road; buying ingredients for Thai cooking was never a problem since it is just a stones throw away from The Golden Miles - the hub for long distant bus services to Malaysia and Thailand which also houses numerous Thai Supermarkets and eateries. It was a very different story in Kuching, I basically gave up Thai cooking once my suppliers ran out. I did find out later that Thai basil is widely available due to the popularity of lei chai (a hakka specialty). Armed with some Thai basil, Sarawak black pepper and a very big smile on my face, a new dish was born. Calamari and chicken can also be used with wonderful results! 
P.S as the dish was first cooked on Malaysian soil, I have decided to declare it a Malaysian dish :)

serves 4 as part of a Chinese or Thai meal
you'll need;
8 large king prawns or 1/2 kg of tiger prawns, veins removed
1/2 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 bird chillies, chopped
2 tbs of black pepper
2 tbs of oyster sauce
1 tbs of sugar
1.5 tbs of fish sauce
1/4 cup of water
a bunch of Thai basil, picked

Pan fry prawns with a little oil til lightly brown.

Saute chopped garlic and chillies for 15 seconds then add in the sliced onions, followed by the black pepper and the rest of the seasonings. Do open up your kitchen windows at this stage :)

Return prawns to the wok, make sure the prawns are coated with the sauce. Cover and cook for a minute.

Chuck in the Thai basil, turn off the heat and mix well.

Serve with steamed rice and don't forget the finger bowl!


  1. These prawns must be peppery delicious

  2. oh yum. looks like a great recipe to try :-)

  3. Great work! I am trying to imagine all the different flavours in this dish!

  4. Those prawns look so delicious! Could I use regular basil instead of Thai? How different is the flavor?

  5. Wow I am going to try this recipe! So wonderful when you can come up with such a wonderful dish!

  6. Kenny,
    They are indeed!

    Thank you! Do give it a go!

    Thank you very much!

    Thank you! You can use purple basil if you can find them, they taste is a lot more similar to Thai basil. It has a stronger aniseed flavour than regular basil. Otherwise use half basil/half coriander.

    Thank you! It was pure stroke of luck! :)

  7. wahhh looks so appetising! love Thai basil, so fragrant and gives a dish a really nice flavour.

  8. I really like the combinations but unfortunately I can't really have prawns :( do I need to brown the chicken or calamari first?

  9. Oh I want to try this dish! We used to live on East Coast Road, not too far from you haha! We used to drive to Golden Miles for the beef noodles!

  10. favourite, favourite prawns! The whole plate must be for me :D

  11. Harriet from CarltonFebruary 18, 2010 at 11:56 PM

    We made the congee tonight using red snapper, it was fantastic!
    Another delicious dish to try but I'll need 5 prawns just for myself haha

  12. comme d'habitude une assiette très classe avec une combinaison de saveurs qui est irrésistible
    bonne journée

  13. 我終於攪清楚如何follow了!想出這麼一道好菜,非常棒喔!

  14. i loved this !! i can adpt very well to my diet !!
    thank you !
    great idea !

  15. ur recipes and fotos always always always make me hungry!!!! those prawns look to DIE for!!! sigh OH YUMMMMMMM

  16. Mmm...the prawns look really yum...yum...

  17. Those prawns look so appetising! Great combination!

  18. The prawns sound so flavorful and aromatic with black pepper & basil!

  19. Looks delicious! You are brave. I walked into a Thai grocer a couple of years ago, and I walked out empty-handed. I didn't know what anything was, and was scared to try it. haha!

  20. Looks Fantastic,I can imagine the aromas in your kitchen :)

  21. pigpigscorner ,
    Thank you very much! I can't do without it luckily it is very easy to get it here.

    Oh what a shame!
    calamari - can be added in raw
    chicken - marinate with a dash of soy, white pepper and corn flour then pan fry in batches first.

    Oh really! What a small world!

    Thank you! Yes you can have it all! :)

    Thank you! I'm so glad to hear that!! These prawns are huge!!

    Fimère ,
    merci beaucoup! Nous espérons que vous l'essayer!

    大肥 ,

    Caio Fernandes ,
    I'm happy to hear that! Thank you!

    zurin ,
    Oh thank you :) Do try making it soon :)

    Anncoo ,
    Thank you very much :)

    Thank you :)

    5 Star Foodie ,
    Thank you! They really do work very well together!

    Haha! I will post a list essential ingredients for thai cooking soon!

    Thank you! It was great but for a few seconds everyone in the room was coughing haha, so to have the windows open is a great idea.

  22. Delicious...i'm getting the aroma out of the pic...

  23. I love king prawns! The sauce sounds really delicious with all those ingredients going into it! Opening the windows is a very good idea indeed :)

  24. Wow I love black pepper and prawns. This recipe sounds amazing. I'll have to give it a try, for sure!

  25. Oh did you cook this dish just for me? :) Love how you came up with this wonderful dish! Bravo!

  26. I am always amazed at the dishes you create with wahtever ingredients you have on hand- A characteristic of a very good cook. Your prawns with the coarse ground black pepper and Thai basil really just make that dish come alive. As always, very nice!!!

  27. I should stay away from this blog. All I do is torture myself. I can't cook to save my life.

  28. Those prawns look so huge and succulent!

  29. What a dish with such simple ingredients! Is Bridge Road where Raffles Hotel is situated?

  30. Hello darling,
    Just listened to your voice message, thank you!
    Oh I miss this dish! Come back soon and we can shop at Golden Miles like good old days!

    Sophia xxx

  31. The gigantic prawns look sooo inviting! It's my son's favourite! Btw, Happy Chinese New Year to you guys too. Wishing you all the best on the year of tiger.
    Best regards,

  32. Cicily,
    Thank you :)

    Thank you! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

    Thank you and please do :)

    Yeah they are much bigger than you though :) Thank you!

    Thank you so much for your praises :) I think having a fix budget makes us more creative in a way :)

    Oh you just have to start cooking for people that you care for too, start with this dish :)

    Fresh Local and Best,
    Haha they almost taste like crayfish!

    Often less is more when it comes to cooking I think :)
    You are right about bridge road!

    Sophia darling,
    Soon! I had a dream and I was buying durians at Golden Miles :)
    kisses xxx

    Thank you! Just make sure you don't spoil him by helping him to peel the prawns :)
    You have a great year too :)

  33. I'll be in big trouble if the boys see this! We are having crispy duck with orange and star anise sauce tonight, wish me luck!!

  34. อร่อย มาก! พวก เขา ไทย ใบ โหระพา?

  35. A quick perve before my guests arrive :) The stew tastes amazing and I managed to get some jumbo quails, will let you know how it goes!
    The prawns look amazing, time for me to change my dinner plan?
    Have a great weekend!

  36. I can never resist black pepper anything. The sauce must be good to the last drop :)

  37. OOOOHHH!! Peppery goodness!! I would be eating the shells and all!!! Amazing cooking! ;)

  38. love to eat,
    thank you! good luck! :)

    ขอบคุณ มาก!

    Great to know that!
    A bit late now lol

    Haha it was spicy but yeah the plate was clean at the end :)

    Thank you! I left the shells and heads on for a reason hehe :)

  39. i'm living in kuching and looking for thai basil, do you know where can i get them from kuching?

  40. Hi Sien,
    I used to get mine at Satok weekend Market. Look out for old Hakka women that sell herbs, baby coriander, mint etc. It is called gim gok far in Hakka. Good luck! let me know you u manage to find them :)


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