It was a couple of years ago, on the Palawan island in the Philippines, where travelling with my family we have stumbled upon this amazing little cafe/restaurant in the town of El-Nido. Almost never does it happen that we would go out to eat in the same place twice while travelling, but this place was just to good to visit only once. And not only that, despite all the lovely menu choices, we’ve ordered a salad similar to this one both times we went there. And with me being in Australia now, where the ingredients needed are quite as nice as the ones in the Philippines, the time has come when I could easily have it almost every day.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 2):
- Iceberg salad
- 1 mango
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cucumber
- a bunch of fresh coriander
- king prawns (the more the merrier!)
- cashew nuts
- juice of 2 limes
- First, peel the prawns. Put their shells and heads in a heavy skillet, add some salt, pepper, lots of cilantro and optionally if you have some excess veggies such as onions, garlic, carrots, celery… add those as well, and cover with water. Cook on low heat for an hour or so, so you get a nice reduction – the longer you cook it, the thicker and more intense it will be. You can use keep it in the fridge and use it for various different things – risotto, pasta sauce,… – You just can’t let the shells go to waste.
- For the prawn flesh, what you will actually be using for this salad, marinate it with some coconut oil, salt, pepper, chilli and some smoked paprika (optional, but I just love everything with that smokey flavour!). Set aside.
- Combine the lime juice, 1/4 of a mango, a thick slice of avocado, a generous bunch of cilantro and a bit of salt and pepper and grind it in a food processor until you get a nice thick liquid consistency – this will be your dressing.
- Wash and tear salad leaves into pieces, and let them dry a bit.
- Cut the rest of the mango into chunks (The “front” and “back” of the mango are best used for this, and sides and inner bits that need to be further cut off the bone for the dressing). De-seed the cucumber and cut it into small bits, as well as the remaining avocado.
- Roast the cashews on medium heat until lightly toasted.
- Stir fry the prawns on high heat, it won’t take more than a couple of minutes. Meanwhile you can nicely combine the salad, mango, cucumber, avocado and cover it with the dressing.
- Arrange the prawns and cashews nicely on top, add some cilantro leaves and black sesame on top, and that’s pretty much it.