The odd name of this classic Sichuan sauce (also used in bang bang chicken) comes about because the combination of flavours is a strange one that shouldn’t work, yet does. Strange or not, the prawns with strange-flavoured dressing are in a salty, sweet, nutty, tangy, spicy, numbing sauce that definitely tastes great! Buy pure Chinese sesame paste (some is mixed with peanuts), or substitute tahini. Prawns are size-graded according to how many are in a pound (a system that remains despite modern metric measurements); a medium-sized king prawn is a U12/15, meaning there are 12–15 prawns to the pound (so each prawn weighs an average 35g). The cooking time below applies to U12/15s and should be adjusted for different sizes; I find that about 1 minute/35g timed from when the prawn is added to the boiling water gives the best result (see video below).
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