Sweet and sour kaffir lime prawns

Sour tamarind and fragrant kaffir lime are perfect marinade ingredients for prawns and other seafood.
Sour tamarind and fragrant kaffir lime are perfect marinade ingredients for prawns and other seafood. Photo: William Meppem

Super-fresh green prawns are essential to make this dish really sing. Barbecue or pan-roast – the results will be different but equally delicious.


2 tbsp tamarind paste

4 large kaffir lime leaves

2 tbsp chopped coriander stems (stems from 1 bunch of coriander)

1 heaped tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped


6-8 large prawns (head and tails on, shells peeled off)

1 heaped tbsp coconut oil (optional)


1. Place tamarind paste, lime leaves, coriander stems, brown sugar, fish sauce and garlic in a blender. Add a good pinch of salt and just enough water to get your blender to blend all the ingredients without diluting the mixture too much. About four tablespoons is usually enough but each machine is a bit different. Blend on high until everything looks smooth. Pour  into a resealable jar. This makes more than you need but it will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator to use another time.

2. Cook the prawns indoors in a hot pan or outside on a hot grill. Either way is equally delicious.

If cooking inside, choose a wide non-stick pan, heat it to a high temperature, add the coconut oil and then the prawns in one even layer. Sprinkle the prawns with a bit of salt and allow them to colour on the one side. This should only take one to two minutes. Flip them over and then brush with the sauce. Allow them to finish cooking, about another one to two minutes, and then serve on a platter. Pour any of the drippings from the pan over the top of the prawns.

If cooking outdoors, heat the grill to high, brush the prawns with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and place on the hot grill. Cooking time is again about one to two minutes each side. After one to two minutes on the grill, flip them over,  brush with the dressing and allow to finish cooking before removing from the grill to your serving platter.

Serve with my chickpea and tomato salad with coconut dressing for a refreshing summer meal.