A light, salty crust makes prawns taste sweeter, while crushed Szechuan peppercorns (kalustyans.com) lend a gentle, pulsing heat and a complex perfume to scallions, garlic, and ginger.
- 12 medium prawns or large shrimp, shells and heads on (optional), backs split open
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 4 scallions, sliced on the bias, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
Rinse prawns, and drain in a colander; shake off excess water. Mix together cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Dredge damp prawns in cornstarch-salt mixture to coat completely.
Heat oil in a wok or a large saute pan over high heat until shimmering. Add prawns, and saute until just turning golden, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, scallions, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring constantly, until prawns are cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Garnish with scallions.