Coconut Prawns with Plantain ball

Camarones en coco and Bola de platanos

This recipe was passed to me last year by my beloved mum, so I dedicate this post to her. Is one of those delicious meals she used to make for us but that she will keep a secret for her when I asked she actually gave me the recipe in 3 lines so I had to put on my thinking hat and work out my ratios with this one.

It looks super fancy and delicious but it is actually very simple to make, about the origins of the recipe I suspect it is a variation of a traditional soup my Grandmother use to make with saltfish which is a traditional recipe from Guiria (a small coastal city where my grandpa and grandma grew up which had a lot of influences from the Antilles especially Trinidad and Tobago), the dish, called Courgullon (Cuguyon, as it is pronounced in Venezuela, is the word for Court Bouillon the French dish that influenced this soup) is a broth made out of sofrito, coconut milk or cream, root vegetables and saltfish, and it is out of this world. The addition of coriander or more traditionally culantro add some freshness to the soup.

The original soup is normally accompanied by Plantain ball (made out of green and slightly ripe plantains) which is consumed in many places in the Caribbean with some variations, also called Mofongo in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic when green plantains have a more savoury and sour note which helps cut down the richness of the soup and add some acidity to the dish balancing the whole mouthfeel experience.

Tips to make Coconut Prawns with Plantain ball

  • Prawns must be very fresh and raw, is best if you can peel and clean your own prawns otherwise to get the freshest ones might be best to buy them peeled and frozen and thawed them in the fridge, also try to get some medium-sized ones as Banana Prawns or Tiger Prawns, they must be briefly browned so they don’t overcook when adding them again at the end of the dish. If buying unpeeled prawns, reserve the shells and make a stock with which will help to thin out the soup if you need it, otherwise fish stock or water will do the job.
  • For a real flavour punch, I recommend using fresh coconuts and making your own coconut milk, by scraping the coconut meat and blending the pulp with hot water and then pressing through a colander or a milk bag, but in case you are in a rush or not able to find the fresh coconuts, is fine to use canned coconut milk or a combination of milk and cream.
  • Plantains are very different to bananas so beware when buying this ingredient as you won’t get the same results if using bananas. Plantains or Cooking bananas are a lot more starchy and can withstand long cooking times, they taste astringent when eaten raw so they are best when eaten cooked when green they add savoury and acidity notes to the dish and when ripe they turn very sweet their flavour profile is a lot more dominant than bananas. In order to find it in Melbourne, I recommend visiting Footscray or Victoria Markets or Asian specialty stores, you can identify the green ones by the skin which have to be bright green, as soon as they have any yellow bits in the skin means they are ripening, for this recipe I recommend green plantains but slightly ripen ones are fine if they are fully ripe it will yield a different end product. I’ve to use Saba Bananas which are a type of cooking bananas from the Philipines, they are easily found in the freezer section of Asian stores, they normally come steamed so that will reduce your cooking time, and the result is similar but I added a bit of lemon juice to amp up the acidity of the Plantain Ball.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets, Plantains are naturally gluten-free. It can be easily adapted to vegan diets by substituting the prawns for tofu or Banana Blossoms (found canned in water in the health section of the supermarket Coles or Woolworths)

Coconut Prawns with Plantain ball

Recipe by KeymaCourse: MainCuisine: Latin, CaribbeanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

4

people
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • Coconut Prawns
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 Kg of raw whole prawns or 500gr of frozen peeled prawns

  • 1 brown onion diced

  • 2 sprigs of spring onion finely sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves minced

  • 1 sweet chili finely diced (yellow or green)

  • 1/2 green or yellow capsicum

  • 1 whole coconut + 2 cups of water to make coconut milk (or 1 can of 400 ml of coconut milk)

  • 1/2 c prawn stock or fish stock or water

  • 1/2 bunch of coriander for garnish

  • ½ tsp of salt (adjust to taste)

  • freshly cracked white pepper

  • 1 lime


  • Plantain ball
  • 2 green plantains

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • few drops of lemon

  • 1 tsp of garlic powder (optional)

  • salt to taste

Method

  • Coconut Prawns
  • Deshell and clean prawns, add a few sprinkles of salt and pepper.
  • In a saucepan add the oil and heat to medium heat, saute the prawns for about a min on each side, and set aside.
  • In the same saucepan add the veggies and saute for 3-5 min until translucid and aromatic.
  • Add the coconut milk and stir, add salt and pepper and let cook for 10-15 min to infuse and reduce by half.
  • Adjust seasonings and add the prawns and fold and cook for a further min and turn the heat off, add a few drops of lime juice to balance the sweetness of the coconut sauce, and serve sprinkled with coriander and plantain ball.
  • Plantain ball
  • Cut the tips of the plantain and add to a saucepan fill with water to cover the plantains. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-12 min until you can easily pierce the plantain through.
  • Peel and mash while still hot to make it easier to mash until there are no visible big lumps (don’t blend as the plantain will get gummy). Add salt, garlic powder, and butter and knead with hands until big ball forms.
  • Break apart and form 4-6 balls of about a baseball ball size, the plantain ball can be eaten as is, but it can be also browned so it adds an extra dimension to the dish, if doing so make a big ball cut 2-3 cm thick slices, add a dash of oil or butter to a non-stick pan and brown for 2-3 min on each side, serve the slices with the coconut prawns and enjoy.

Notes