Orange zest is a terrible thing to waste, so I threw some into this 15-minute prawn dish along with orange juice itself. That little hit of bitterness gives this dish a bit of Chinese restaurant-worthy meal cred, if I do say so myself. I use the cornflour trick (diluting some cornflour in liquid before adding it to the sauce to thicken) and the honey trick (to sweeten and make it glossy) and the prawn trick (which is nothing more than… deciding to use prawns).
By the way, when you use the word count in relation to the number of prawns in a recipe, it’s referring to the number per pound; 16-20 count is really pretty big, but other sizes work, too – if they’re smaller, just cook them a little less on both sides. Basically, if they’re nice and pink on each side by the time you get them out of the pan (before you finish them in the sauce), they’re done. The nice thing about having bigger prawns is that you can cook them longer, and get them that beautiful golden brown before you overcook them, but either way, this is going to be good.
Active time: 15 minutes*
Total time: 20 minutes
*If you’re not using pre-cleaned prawns, this is more like 25 mins.
2 medium oranges
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cornflour
450g large (16-20 count) prawns, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
2 spring onions, whites thinly sliced, greens cut into 5-cm lengths
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Cooked rice, for serving
1. Using a vegetable peeler, pull off a 2.5-cm-wide strip of zest from 1 orange, then finely grate the zest from about half the orange. Reserve both kinds of zest. Juice both oranges into a bowl (you should have just over 125ml juice; if you have a lot less… borrow another orange from somebody). Whisk in the honey, soy sauce and vinegar.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of the orange-soy mixture to form a paste, then stir that back into the bowl with the rest of the orange-soy mixture.
3. Pat the prawns dry with paper towels and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. In the largest frying pan you have, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering-hot, almost smoking. Add the prawns, spread it out in one layer, DFWI, and cook until the underside is bright pink, 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute more, then transfer them to a plate.
4. Add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the garlic, ginger, spring onion whites and chilli flakes and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the orange-soy liquid and the strip of orange zest and cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the prawns to the pan, add the spring onion greens, and toss to coat with the sauce.
5. Divide the prawns among bowls, garnish with a few pinches of the orange zest, and serve with rice.