Prawn Salad in Spicy Balsamic Dressing

Simple, quick and packed with flavours, this salad has got it all! Whether served as an entrée for your next dinner party or as meal in its own right, it has potential to impress. I love the dressing for providing a spicy kick without overpowering the prawns.


Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2 (main course)


  • 14 green King prawns
  • 1 whole red oak leaf lettuce or another red variety
  • 1 pack cherry tomatoes or another small variety
  • 3 tbsp walnut oil*
  • 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar*
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Crusty bread (optional)

Step 1 – Peel the Prawns: Peel the prawns, make an incision of 1 to 1.5cm where it is at its largest and remove the intestinal tract (see picture). Cutting the prawns in this fashion not only improves the presentation, it also evens out the cooking process. You might want to leave the tails on the prawns for presentation purposes.

Step 2 – Prepare the lettuce: Break the leaves into 3 or so pieces and wash thoroughly. Drain and set aside. I prefer using a red variety of lettuce because of the dark colour of the dressing. Although some of the red varieties can be slightly more bitter, the dressing has enough punch to counterbalance it.

Step 3 – Prepare the tomatoes: Wash the tomatoes thoroughly, drain and then cut them in half. I like to use a mix of heirloom tomatoes for the variety of colours, shapes and flavours.

Step 4 – Prepare the dressing: In a bowl, mix 3 tbsp of walnut oil with 1.5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of curry powder and 1/2 a tsp of ground ginger. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5 – Plate the salad: Place the lettuce leaves on large plates and scatter the tomatoes.

Step 6 – Pan fry the prawns: Heat olive oil in a fry pan. Once very hot, add the prawns. Stir occasionally until the prawns look golden on the outside but still slightly rare and juicy on the inside. This should take 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 7 – Add 3 tbsp of dressing onto the prawns: Give the dressing another stir to make it look as homogeneous as possible. Still on high heat, add 2 tbsp of dressing onto the prawns and stir gently. The prawns should be fully covered in dressing. Take the fry pan off heat and let the prawns rest for 1 minute.

Step 8 – Drizzle the leftover dressing over the salad: While the prawns are resting, drizzle the leftover dressing over the lettuce and tomatoes.

Step 9 – Plate the prawns: Scatter the prawns over the salad and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Mix & Match

You could add texture to this salad by adding bean sprouts, avocado and/or slightly boiled, but still crunchy snow peas. The prawns could also be replaced by lobster or balmain bugs for fancy occasions.

Wine Match

This is a tricky one. Not only can salads be hard to match with wine, but the mix of flavours in this one means there isn’t a straight answer. I’d go for a French Rosé, dry but not too acidic. A chardonnay could also work well with the curry flavour. If you don’t like Rosé or Chardonnay then I believe a Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon Sauvignon Blanc would work too. Any thoughts on the topic are more than welcome!

*Did you Know?

  • Walnut oil can be found in specialty stores and delis, e.g. Harris Farm
  • Walnut oil is a “healthy” oil. It has a high content of polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Walnut oil should preferably not be heated. Not only will the heat remove some of the nutty flavour, it will also significantly reduce its nutritional value.
  • Balsamic vinegar has been made in Northern Italy since medieval times but has only been widely used since the 1980s. The balsamic vinegar we consume on a daily basis isn’t the original version though. The real “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” is fermented, aged and concentrated for over 12 years in wood barrels and is therefore incredibly expensive. The “good”, widely available, balsamic vinegar might ferment for 1 year or so according to Harold McGee in “On Food and Cooking – The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”. (see
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