Prawn caldine

prawns and chillies coconut milk, almond meal, spices

Rick Stein’s seafood odyssey, 256pp.
by Rick Stein
BBC Worldwide, London, 1999
Cooking on page 32–33

I love Rick Stein and his recipes. His television series are thoughtful and informative, and I really appreciate the way he interacts with his foreign hosts.

This cookbook is from one of his TV series. I bought it to take as a gift for someone who lives in Spain and who loves to cook seafood. Like so many of the cookbooks I acquire, I bought it secondhand at Canty’s Bookshop in Fyshwick. If you’re anywhere near Canberra, be sure to stop in to Canty’s. Their selection is huge (many new books too) and their prices are reasonable.

I’ve bought a few of Stein’s book there. For this book, Stein travels to seven of the world’s main centres of seafood excellence, picking up recipe ideas and sampling new ingredients.

It was an easy book for me to choose. Page 32 has an Indian caldine recipe. One of my very first page-32 recipes was for fish caldine from a cookbook I bought in Ghana.

Prawn caldine


Prawn caldine

550 g (1 1/4 lb) headless raw prawns (shrimps)
2 tablespoons coconut vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white poppy seeds or ground almonds
4 tablespoons groundnut oil (peanut oil)
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2.5 cm (1 inch) fresh root ginger, finely chopped
400 ml (14 fl oz) coconut milk
4 tablespoons tamarind water
150 ml (5 fl oz) water
5 mild green finger chillies, halved, seeded and cut into long, thin shreds
2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro)

Peel the prawns, leaving the last tail segment in place. Mix the prawns with the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and leave for 5 minutes or so. This enhances the flavour. Meanwhile, put the turmeric powder, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and white poppy seeds, if using, into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

headless prawns tamarind water sautéing onions cooking onions adding chillies

Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the ground spices and fry for 2 minutes. Add the ground almonds, if you aren’t using poppy seeds, plus the coconut milk, tamarind water, water, three-quarters of the sliced chillies and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the prawns and simmer for only 3–4 minutes so they don’t overcook. Stir in the rest of the sliced chillies and the coriander and serve with some steamed basmati rice.

How it played out
As I set out to make this recipe—for Christmas Day lunch— I realised I didn’t have five finger chillies. In fact, I didn’t have any fresh chillies. Grrrr! But then it occurred to me that the IGA in the downtown bus interchange would probably be open. Their sign says ‘open 24/7’. So I hopped in the car and dashed to Civic, which is only five minutes away from us. And yes, they were open and had green chillies on special. Recipe and lunch menu saved.

As for the recipe, I especially appreciated the fact that Stein specified headless prawns. It always helps to know weights before you start. I’d bought 1100 grams of largish prawns in the shell. After I broke off the heads, I had 660 grams to work with. I figured that was close enough to 550 grams, so used them all.

I followed the rest of the recipe, using ground almonds instead of white poppy seeds. Never knew almonds were a good substitute for white poppy seeds, so that was a nice bit of info. Made tamarind water by stirring a heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste into a 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of warm water.

The hardest part—meaning the most time-consuming—of this recipe was peeling and deveining the prawns (shrimps). This is always a pain, but I found that once the heads were pulled off, it was fairly easy to grab the prawn’s digestive tract and pull it out. Another good find.

Served with mashed potatoes left over from Christmas Eve lunch.

Stein's Seafood Odyssey

A tasty dish that we enjoyed, but my memory says that I enjoyed the fish caldine recipe from Ghana even more.

I will most likely not make this again, because I have heaps of other page-32 prawn recipes still to make.

Some asides
It’s summer in Australia, so our Christmas celebrations aren’t quite the same as those in the Northern Hemisphere. Temperatures is some places can reach 40°C (104°F) or more. Seafood and cold lunches are common (not the rule, but common).

So here’s another prawn/shrimp recipe that would be great for a festive occasion.

And don’t forget to check out my travel blog.

Prawns at Christmas


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
This entry was posted in Fish and seafood, Light meal, lunch, Main dish, Seafood and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Prawn caldine

  1. Wili says:

    mmmmmh…. delicious. I didn’t know Rick Stein befor. But with this he has already won me and you too 😉

  2. blondieaka says:

    mmmmm I like the sound of this one 🙂

  3. Catherine says:

    Looks delicious. Will be trying this one for sure. Big fan of Rick Stein and his food adventures!

  4. Sy S. says:

    I had high hopes of this recipe being a very good one, but I just can’t give it a high rating. Maybe because I varied the ingredients (don’t care for Tamarind, so left it out) and also placed the shrimp on a bed of Asian Vegetable Rice (Package) which was a touch on the sweet side. Perhaps the shrimp would have been better on mashed potatoes… but to me it was a typical Asian/Thai type of dish.

  5. Sheryl says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading both posts with caldine recipes. If I get a chance, I really want to try the fish caldine recipe. I think that I’ve eaten something similar to it that I really liked, and it would be fun to try making it.

    • leggypeggy says:

      I loved the fish caldine. Just my kind of flavours. This prawn dish was good, but not great, but the fish version was excellent. Let me know what you think if you make it.

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