In our small town we have a tiny farmer market every Wednesday and Saturday. It is really very small. There is only one fruit and veg stall, one for fish, one for cheese and one for poultry and eggs. I love to buy local products from farmers directly because these are far fresher than products you get from the supermarket. Especially the fruit and veg. Normally these are just gathered right before the farmer leave for the market. You can even see the dewdrops on them!
Another reason for me to go to the farmer market is that I can get a feeling for what is growing in the season. If you only buy stuff at a supermarket, you will totally loose this feeling. All those imported products from everywhere all over the world! It is too sad that we are totally not aware of the seasonal products any more because we can get anything any time.
I was standing in line in front of the only fruit and veg stall on the market. Looking at all those lovely fresh products I started to think about what I would cook for dinner with guests in the evening. Then I saw these good-looking broad beans! They looked so refreshingly green and when I carefully touched them the shell was still very solid and I could feel the fat beans inside the shell under my fingers. The fat beans were huge. You could even count the exact number of the beans hidden inside the green shell. I could feel they just wanted to burst the shell. Yes! I would take them home!
I love all kinds of beans: soy beans, red beans, white beans, black beans, peas (not sure if they belong to the same family, at least in China we count them to the bean’s family…), and one of my favourites are broad beans. During my childhood in China there were not so many choices of snacks for children. No potato chips, no chocolate! We just had some very basic snacks that were normally simply made from natural ingredients like fruit and veg.
I can still remember the one I used to love so much, it was made from broad beans. We called this snack “Broad beans with strange taste” (guaiwei hudou 怪味胡豆). The broad beans were coated in very thin dough with spices and then fried in oil until they turned crunchy. I loved that unbelievable combination of all those different tastes: sweet, savory, spicy and numb (yes, I am not kidding, this numb taste comes from Sichuan-Peppers, if you eat even only a bit, your tongue really gets numb. This is why we also call it numb-pepper in Sichuan), then the crunchy dough and crispy beans. I guess people were just overstrained by all these different tastes and didn’t know how to describe the main taste for this snack. So, the practical Sichuan-Chinese just decided to call it “Broad beans with strange tastes.” Too cute, isn’t it?
Anyway, I didn’t need a snack for dinner, but a nice starter! Something with broad beans, that should taste light and refreshing. And there had to be an Asian touch, of course. From the fish stall I got some very nice prawns. I thought of using the prawns for a starter as well. Yep, I knew what I was going to do with these fat beans! There would be a broad bean paste with two of my favourite spices: Sichuan-Pepper and cumin! Then I would marinate the prawns in my newly homemade Basil Pesto (click here for the recipe), and then grill them shortly in olive oil and serve them on top of the bean paste.
But what about the Asian Touch? Sichuan-Pepper and cumin should be great for the Asian touch of the taste, but what about the eyes? I still needed a presentation that reminded everyone of Asia immediately. Prawns, broad beans, prawns, broad beans, prawns… Oh yes! I got THE idea! What could be more suitable than prawn crackers for my new dish? The taste of the crackers would chime together fantastically with the grilled prawns, and its crunchy texture would complement the creamy bean paste and tender prawns. I was feeling this typical prickling on my fingers again! I just couldn’t wait any longer to try my new idea!
Tada, there you go! I am so proud to present you my new creation: “pesto prawns with broad bean paste on prawn crackers”! (Such a long name! Do you have any idea for a shorter and better one?)
If you cannot find any broad beans, try peas instead. It works also very well. I have already tested it. ;-) For vegetarians: marinate and grill tofu cubes the same way and take rice crackers or potato chips instead.
Ingredients (4 portions as a starter):
For the Broad Bean Paste:
100g broad beans
4 tsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
½ tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp Sichuan pepper powder
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
For the Prawn Crackers:
8 dried Prawn Crackers (Asia shop, for vegetarian: rice cracker or potato chips)
500ml Oil to fry
For the Pesto Prawn (for vegetarian: Pesto Tofu):
8 Prawns (peeled)
2 tbsp Basil Pesto (Click here for recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil
- For the Prawn Crackers: fry the crackers in oil until slight brown (160 – 180 degrees)
- For the Bean Paste: Cook beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Chill and dry the beans. Add all ingredients to a blender and mix until getting creamy.
- For the Pesto Prawns: Marinate the prawns in the Basil Pesto for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan and grill the prawns for ca. 1 minute on each side.
- Garnishing: Put ca. 1 tbsp Broad Bean Paste on top of each prawn cracker and garnish with a grilled pesto prawn.