Inspired by the culinary gems they discovered on their travels, authors Leanne Kitchen and Antony Suvalko share recipes from their foodie adventures in South East Asia…
Prawn and Sweet Potato Fritters
Serves 4-6 as snack or starter
Delicious banh tom originated in Hanoi, Vietnam – home to some pretty kick-arse street foods. As with many such dishes, versions abound, with some more battery, some more prawny and some with the sweet potato cut thicker. We like ours with a minimum of batter to glue everything together, and a ton of sweet potato and prawn. We prefer to use tiny, whole school prawns when they’re in season but, if they aren’t, or if you prefer, you can use small, peeled, raw king or tiger prawns if the crunch of shells and heads doesn’t do it for you.
1 sweet potato (about 350 g/121⁄2 oz), peeled and cut
into thick matchsticks
75 g (23⁄4 oz/1⁄2 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
90 g (23⁄4 oz/1⁄2 cup) rice flour
1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper
300 g (101⁄2 oz) raw school prawns (shrimp) or small
prawns, peeled, deveined and sliced lengthways
vegetable oil for frying
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white rice vinegar
60 ml (2 fl oz/1⁄4 cup) fish sauce
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
Put the sweet potato in a bowl of iced water and stand for 1 hour to crisp. Drain well. Combine the flours, turmeric, sea salt and white pepper in a large bowl, then slowly whisk in 225 ml (71⁄2 fl oz) water to form a smooth batter. Add the prawns and sweet potato and stir gently to combine well.
Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F). Pour in enough oil to generously cover the base of a large nonstick frying pan set over medium–high heat. Drop heaped tablespoonfuls of the fritter mixture into the hot oil and flatten slightly with a spoon to form cakes about 5–6 cm (2–21⁄2 in) across. Cook the fritters, in batches, for 3 minutes on each side, or until deep golden and the prawns and sweet potato are cooked through.
Drain the fritters on paper towel and keep them warm in the oven until all the fritters are cooked.
Serve the fritters with the herbs scattered over and the dipping sauce, passed separately.
2 small handfuls of fresh herb leaves, such as mint,
Vietnamese mint, Thai basil or coriander (cilantro)
For the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl
with 190 ml (61⁄2 fl oz/3⁄4 cup) water and stir until the sugar has
dissolved. Set aside.
Fried egg salad
The Thais call this simple salad yam khai dao and, on every level it’s our kind of dish. It’s easy to rustle up when the pantry is looking empty and is great for brunch, lunch or dinner. The key is to fry the eggs until they are crisp and golden, but it’s totally up to you if you want your yolks runny, firm or somewhere in between.
Try using quail eggs for a daintier dish.
21⁄2 tablespoons dried shrimp, soaked in warm water
for 30 minutes, drained and coarsely chopped
125 ml (4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup) vegetable oil
1 butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried and torn
1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 carrot, peeled and shredded into fine ribbons
or cut into matchsticks
handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves
handful of Thai basil leaves
2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
80 ml (21⁄2 fl oz/1⁄3 cup) lime juice
11⁄2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar (jaggery)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
In a wok over medium heat, fry the dried shrimp in the oil for about 2 minutes or until crisp and fragrant. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil. Reserve the hot oil in the wok.
Increase the heat to medium–high and, working in batches, add 4 eggs to the hot oil in the wok, taking care as the oil will splutter. Cook for 1 minute or until the egg whites are puffy and golden on the bottom. Carefully turn the eggs over using a spatula, then cook for another 20–30 seconds or until the tops are just set, but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well and until the sugar has dissolved. Divide the eggs between four bowls. Add the dressing, fried dried shrimp, lettuce, onion, carrot, herbs and chillies and toss to combine well. Serve immediately.
Recipes taken from East by Leanne Kitchen and Anthony Suvalko (Hardie Grant, £25)