Rick Stein has always been my hero. His ingredient-driven cooking and simple flavours have validated my approach to food. In recent times he made a TV series called Far Eastern Odyssey and has since been promoting Malaysia on behalf of Malaysian Kitchen. Along the way he met Chef Wan, a Malaysian food mega star (he has even appeared on Oprah).
Stein and Chef Wan have both been in New Zealand recently and I was lucky enough to meet them. Stein is the man you see on television, charming, unassuming and chatty. Chef Wan is a fireball, hilarious and outrageous, totally selling Malaysian food and his country. Both are inspiring cooks and personalities.
I adopted this recipe, which Chef Wan demonstrated on Stein's programme. It is simple, fresh and would be great to offer in individual containers (get some takeaway noodle boxes), in bowls or on a big platter as party food.
Chef Wan's Malaysian prawn and noodle salad
1. Drop 125g of dried rice noodles into a pan of boiling water, remove from the heat and leave to soak for ½ a minute, or until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold water. Toss with a few drops of vegetable oil to stop the strands sticking together, then leave in a colander to drain really well.
2. Grill 300g large fresh prawns in a pan or on the barbecue.
3. Thinly slice a medium onion. Tear a large handful of fresh mint, coriander and chives.
4. Roast 100g of peanuts and chop finely.
5. Juice 2 limes and add 3 tbsp of Thai fish sauce. Put the noodles in your bowls or a platter. Mix the above ingredients gently with the noodles, and top with the prawns. Make the sauce, pour over the salad and serve immediately.
For the sauce
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp Thai prawn paste
3 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and sliced
4 tbsp palm sugar
1. Put everything into a food processor or blender and grind, using the pulse button, into a coarse, wet paste, almost soupy in texture.
2. If barbecuing, you could have the salad base and sauce ready and chilled in the fridge. Grill the prawns and serve straight from the barbecue, sizzling into the chilled base - inspired.