Here is a recipe of a spicy Malaysian soup made with creamy coconut and super fresh prawns. Preferable enjoyed on one of the beautiful Perhentian islands. Together with a loved one, still with salty skin from swimming in the sea, sand between the toes and shoulders a bit burned from the sun. Sitting on a terrace with beautiful views over the ocean and the other close by islands. And with a cold Tiger beer within close reach. Aahh, what am I doing here in the cold?!

Serves 4

600 gram peeled prawns (tail still intact)
2 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 cm piece of ginger, chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
3 stems of lemon grass, white part only, chopped
2 tsp shrimp paste
3 tbsp sunflower oil
700 ml fish stock
600 ml coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
lime juice

To serve with rice vermicelli (or other noodles) and 200 gram bean sprouts (I had none at home so I used bamboo shoots instead and it worked just fine) and cucumber.

First you make a paste: add the chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, shrimp paste, lemongrass and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a food blender. Blend real well until a smooth paste.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in a wok or deep pan. Add the paste and stir on low heat for a few minutes. Pour in the stock and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and a squirt of lime juice. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the prawns (save 8 for decoration) and simmer for 2 minutes until just pink.

Soak the rice vermicelli in a bowl of boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and divide between the bowls. Top with bamboo shoots or bean sprouts. Divide the soup between the bowls.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and gently fry the left over prawns until pink. Decorate on a skewer for each bowl.