Grilled Kauai Prawns and Bean Thread Noodles with a Strawberry-Papaya Vinaigrette
Large freshwater prawns are prepared with the head, whiskers, and tail intact. The lumpia cups and fried bean thread noodles can be prepared ahead of time and kept in an airtight container for assembly. Solo and strawberry papayas are the most plentiful in Hawaii; however, you can use any variety for the vinaigrette.
- Strawberry-Papaya Vinaigrette
- Strawberry, solo, or regular papaya - 1 cup, finely chopped,
- Fresh Ginger - 1 tablespoon, grated
- Mirin or Sweet sherry - 2 tablespoons
- Thai or other sweet chili paste - 1/4 cup
- Macadamia nut or peanut oil - 1/4 cup
- Hawaiian or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Lumpia Cups
- Peanut oil for wrappers
- Lumpia or egg roll wrappers
- Rice stick noodles - one, 8-ounce package
- Kauai or other freshwater prawns - 16, large, unshelled, or jumbo shrimp
- Olive oil for coating
- Hawaiian or kosher salt to taste
- Salad Bouquets
- Green Onions - 4, green part only
- Lettuce Leaves - 4 large
- Mixed baby greens - 2 handfuls (2 ounces)
- Okinawan Sweet Potato Puree
- Okinawan (purple) or regular sweet potatoes - 2-1/2 pounds
- Unsalted Butter - 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks), cut into pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh opal basil sprigs - 4
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Yellow Bell Peppers - 1, seeded, deribbed, and diced
To make the vinaigrette: Put the papaya, ginger, orange juice, mirin or sherry, and chili sauce in a blender and puree. With the machine running, gradually add the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To make the lumpia cups: In a deep wok or deep fryer, heat 2 inches of the oil to 375 F, or until almost smoking. Cut each lumpia wrapper in half on the diagonal, making 2 triangles. Put 1 triangle in the hot oil and press to the bottom of the wok or fryer with a slotted spoon. Hold it there for 15 seconds, or until a cup is formed. Continue to fry for 1 minute, or until browned. With the slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining triangles. Reserve the oil.
To make the noodles: Divide a package of noodles into 4 portions. Drop one fourth of the noodles into the same hot oil used for the lumpia cups. They will triple in size immediately. With a slotted spoon, remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining noodles, frying in batches. Set aside.
To prepare the prawns: Soak 16 bamboo skewers in water for at least 15 minutes. Light a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill. Run the bamboo skewers lengthwise through the unshelled prawns or shrimp to hold them straight during cooking. Coat the prawns or shrimp with oil, then sprinkle with salt. Grill the prawns or shrimp over a medium-hot fire, turning frequently, until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
To make the bouquets: Blanch the green onions in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain. Fill each large lettuce leaf with one fourth of the mixed greens. Place 1 grilled prawn or shrimp inside each bouquet of greens. Tie around each bouquet with a blanched green onion.
To make the sweet potato puree: Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Place I a medium saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain. Add the butter, salt, and pepper, and mash.
To serve: Place 1/4 cup sweet potato puree on half of each plate. Place a lumpia cup on the other half of each plate, then place a bouquet across each lumpia cup. Ladle a generous portion of the vinaigrette over each prawn or shrimp. Garnish with a spray of fried bean thread noodles and a sprig of basil. Scatter the diced red and yellow peppers on top of the vinaigrette.