When I think about Kochi my home town in kerala, India, the first image that conjures up in the mind is that of the Chinese fishing nets. These nets are over 500 years old and were first introduced by Chinese emperor Zheng He. Located at Fort Kochi, these cantilevered fishing accessories have over the years become a popular tourist attraction. Just like any other tourist, I was most excited about seeing this unique process of fishing with these Chinese fishing nets.
Listed below are a few facts about the Chinese fishing nets.
*These fishing nets are permanently fixed on-shore installations that are set up on bamboo and teak poles and work on the principle of balance
* They droop towards the water like over-sized hammocks and are counterbalanced by stones
* The fishermen open the nets at a particular time keeping in mind the state of the tides
* A team of six or more fishermen operates each installation at a time. Two people walk on the beam so that the net descends into the water while one person opens the net and leaves it in the water for about four to five minutes. The remaining three pull the ropes thereafter so that the net comes back up and they can finally see how much fish they have managed to catch
* Once they are done fishing, they carefully tie the net to the pole and head out to sell their fresh catch of the day.
It was amazing to see these fishermen complete their task so effortlessly. They not only enjoyed the entire process but also made it super fun for people who were watching them. One of their best catch is the prawns, were I would like to share a recipe with you.
Spicy grilled prawns
preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 4 as a starter
For the masala:
Hot red chillies – 2 nos
Cloves garlic – 2 nos
A thumb-sized lump of fresh ginger, peeled
Black peppercorns, coarsely ground – 6 nos
cumin seed – 2 teaspoons
ground turmeric – ½ teaspoon
coriander seeds, crushed – 1 teaspoon
creamed coconut – 50 gms
water or natural yoghurt to mix
500g large, juicy prawns (shelled)
To serve – a little chopped coriander leaves and some wedges of lime
1) Slice the chillies in half, scraping out the seeds if you want a milder spice mixture.
2) Put the chillies into a blender or food processor with the garlic, the ginger thinly sliced, the peppercorns, cumin seed, turmeric, coriander seed and creamed coconut. Blitz to a thick mush, adding a little water or yoghurt until you have a loose paste. Scrape into a medium sized bowl.
3) Rinse and dry the prawns then toss them in the masala paste and set aside for an hour or so. During this time the prawns will take up some of the flavours from the masala.
4) Get an overhead grill hot. Thread the prawns, three or four at a time, onto skewers, a bit messy this, but it makes the prawns much easier to turn.
5) Cook them under the grill (or on a griddle) for a couple of minutes until they are sizzling and fully opaque.
6) Serve them, with a little chopped coriander leaves and lime juice.