Mrs Bailey’s Sesame Prawns
It’s widely believed that sesame was brought to Mars from Egypt in the very early years, when the British pioneers were desperate to learn what crops would grow here. They imported plants from all across the Empire, along with the peasants who knew best how to cultivate them. There are still broad swathes of agricultural land here and there across the province, still farmed by descendants of the original fellahin who cleared and planted that land, although they own it now outright; and yes, sesame is one of their staple crops.
At about the same time, some bright spark felt it would be a good idea to introduce freshwater prawns to the canals. As it turned out, it really was. They’ve introduced many different varieties over the years of settlement; the stronger eat the weaker, and there are thriving populations now all through the Red Raj and beyond.
The Chinese too are of course a thriving population on Mars, though they’d probably resent the comparison, for they too are striving to rise above their coolie reputation. The Crater School has sent many a Chinese girl forth into the world, brightly educated and brightly ambitious. It was one of those pupils, back in the long-ago, who brought Mrs Bailey her first wok as a Christmas gift and taught her how to use it.
Which pupil gave her this recipe is lost in the mists of time, unless she came up with it herself. In honesty, it’s almost too simple to be worthy of the name.
500g large prawns, peeled and deveined — wild-caught for preference, farmed if you must
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut or other oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
Oil, to fry
1 bunch of green/spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Mix all the ingredients in the first list (except the prawns) in a bowl, to make a marinade. Add the prawns, toss thoroughly, and marinate for at least an hour at room temperature, or up to all day in the fridge.
Heat your wok over a high flame. Once it’s thoroughly hot, add a splash more of the same oil you used in the marinade. Fish the prawns from the marinade, and stir-fry briefly. Add most of the green/spring onion, and continue to stir-fry until the prawns are just cooked. Transfer them to a plate.
Pour the remaining marinade into the wok, and simmer until it reduces to a thick syrupy sauce. Return the prawns to the pan and toss in the sauce; after a minute, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle over the sesame seeds and the remaining onions.
You can find more of Mrs Bailey’s recipes here: