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Panfried Prawns in a Sweet and Sour Sauce with Thai Herbs

French Chef Jean-Louis VosgienThis recipe for Panfried prawns in a sweet and sour sauce with Thai herbs and mint, served on a thin coconut lace pancake comes from French Chef Jean-Louis Vosgien.

Jean-Louis Vosgien is a culinary consulting chef. He was the first chef in France, in the 1980's, to introduce fusion food which at the time was unknown, and he is considered an expert in that field by the press. He created two cookery schools, one in Saint-Tropez and the second in Lorgues, near Saint-Tropez. He is also renowned in France for creating created a cake known as “Le Canelou de Provence” which is sold today in the three major supermarket chains in France. He was also involved in the creation of the French cookery book “La Cuisine de Mistral", with Alain Gerard and Robert Callier.

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Panfried prawns in a sweet and sour sauce with Thai herbs and mint, served on a thin coconut lace pancake is one of the first “East meets West” recipes I created in Saint-Tropez. This lukewarm appetizer has always been very successful when served to the guest. Definitely one of my favourite “East meets West” dishes.

It is easy to do, except maybe for the lace pancake that needs a little experience. The sauce can be kept for days in the fridge, much longer if stored in a freezer. Pancakes can be made in advance and stored wrapped in plastic bags in the freezer. If you find the preparation of the lace pancakes too difficult, just skip it and serve the prawns in individual salad bowls, without the pancakes. (You will find Kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and coconut milk in Chinese stores or in most UK supermarkets).


12 big prawns, shelled and heads removed

For the sauce:
1cup white vinegar 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup finely sliced shallots
1/2 cup finely sliced spring onion
1/4 cup very finely chopped lemon grass sticks
6 to 8 Kaffir lime leaves, cut in very thin julienne
4 cilantro stems, chopped
5 fresh mint stems, sliced in julienne
4 mint bouquets

For lace pancakes:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 egg
1/3 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1 small empty can


Make the sauce first:

  • Combine all the ingredients except the spring onions, cilantro and mint in a saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for about one hour or until the sauce starts to become syrupy. To check take one tea spoon of the sauce and leave it on a cold plate for one minute. It should be a little thinner than maple syrup.
  • Add the cilantro, and spring onions. Mix well. Boil for one minute, no more, and remove from heat. Keep on one side.

Lace pancake preparation:

  • Put the flour in a mixing bowl
  • Add the egg, the salt, and 2/3 of the coconut milk
  • Stir with a whisk
  • Add the remaining coconut milk whilst still whisking
  • Set the mixture aside to rest for at least 15 minutes
  • With a nail or the sharp point of a tool make a small hole in the bottom of the empty can
  • Heat a non-stick skillet on a medium heat. Grease the skillet very lightly using a greasy towel (any frying oil will work)
  • Pour one part of the pancake batter in to the can, making sure while doing this to close the hole with one of your fingers
  • Bring the can over the skillet and, removing the finger closing the hole, let the batter run into the skillet while you “draw” arabesques with your hand until you get a pancake imitating lace
  • Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes until light brown. Turn upside down and cook for 1 more minute. Place on a plate on a piece of baking paper.
  • Repeat the same process until you have used all the batter. Place one piece of baking paper between each pancake to avoid them sticking together.


With the first pancake the consistency of the batter may have to be corrected. Add more coconut milk if the batter is too thick. Add more flour if the batter is too runny. Correcting in this way will give you the right consistency.

Finishing the preparation:

  • Slice the back of the prawns to remove the gut.
  • Fry on a high heat in a skillet with olive oil, for 2 or 3 minutes on both sides.
  • Place the pancakes on individual serving plates.
  • Reheat the sauce, remove from the heat and add the prawns. Move the prawns in the sauce to ensure they are evenly coated with the sauce. (Do not boil the prawns with the sauce, only coat with the sauce!)
  • Arrange the prawns on the plates with about one table spoon of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with the sliced mint.
  • Decorate with the mint bouquets.

Serves 4

Chef Jean-Louis Vosgien

© Chef Jean-Louis Vosgien