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Coconut and pepper caramel prawns

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for coconut and pepper caramel prawns.

By Emma Knowles, Lisa Featherby & Alice Storey
  • Serves 4
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 20 mins cooking plus cooling
Coconut and pepper caramel prawns
Coconut and pepper caramel prawns

We've used coconut palm sugar in the caramel here rather than regular palm sugar. It's softer and has a lighter taste, but normal palm sugar also works well.


  • 1 cup each Thai basil, coriander and mint (loosely packed)
  • 1 pomelo, cut into segments
  • ¼ mature coconut, flesh thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 80 ml lime juice
  • 20 large uncooked prawns (about 60gm each), peeled, tails intact
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Coconut and pepper caramel
  • 200 gm each coconut palm sugar (see note) and caster sugar
  • 100 ml fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, finely crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 tbsp coconut vinegar
  • 4 fresh curry leaves


  • 1
    For coconut and pepper caramel, scatter both sugars in a large frying pan, add 2 tbsp water and cook over medium heat, swirling to combine, until caramelised (7-10 minutes). Remove from heat, add fish sauce, pepper and vinegar and set aside to cool slightly. Add curry leaves and lime juice, stir to combine and add a little warm water to get a thick syrup consistency. Season to taste: it should be sweet, salty and sour.
  • 2
    Combine herbs, pomelo, coconut flesh, chilli, fish sauce and half the lime juice in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside.
  • 3
    Brush prawns with oil and season to taste. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add half the prawns and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes), add half the caramel, stir to coat prawns, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining prawns and caramel. Add remaining lime juice to prawns, stir to combine and transfer to a serving platter. Top with herb mixture, scatter with fried shallots and fried garlic and serve with lime wedges.


Note Fried shallots, fried garlic and coconut palm sugar are available from Asian grocers and the Asian food section of most major supermarkets.
Drink Suggestion: Medium sweet, grapy riesling. Drink suggestion by Max Allen