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Raw Shrimp in Soju – AKA Drunken Prawns

Drunken Prawns
Drunken Prawns

I was recently to try raw shrimp in soju whilst attending a birthday party in Phnom Penh. The restaurant was like a fusion between a buffet, Chinese hot-pot, and Korean BBQ.

You can read about duck BBQ in Pyongyang here .

I was also more than a slight fan of raw fish in all of its various varieties, and this includes raw shrimp. Raw shrimp though is notoriously one of the hardest things to have as a sashimi and if not done correctly can make you super sick.

Drunken Prawns

If you look online you will see lots of recipes for drunken shrimp, or prawns and it is very much a thing in China and Korea. In China they tend to do it with bai jiu, the super strength rice-wine liquor than accompanies very meal, business meeting, and of course weddings.

I’m no fan of Chinese rice-wine, but I do know that the alcohol strength is so damned high that it is enough to kill any parasite to come near it. Soju I had slightly less faith in.

Raw Shrimp in Soju

As we entered our party room at Oishi Grand Buffet Suki Soup and BBQ – more on that later, a Chinese guy had a big bowl of shrimp, from here he started to pour bottle upon bottle of soju into there. By the end I counted about 7 bottles being dropped into the mix.

It was thens a strange situation as the guy spoke Chinese, but not English, or Khmer, so I was needed to translate for the preparation of the dish. We needed wasabi, much like with any sashimi, but alas the only negative point of the day was that they had run out of the stuff.

Raw Shrimp in Soju – how long do you let it soak?

This is where the dish gets exiting, or rather a bit scary. I am fairly sure the Chinese guy was used to doing this with strong liquor and the relative weakness of the soju was duly pointed out.

To read about Soju being the best selling liquor in the world click here

I guess we waited about half an hour before it was decided that the shrimp was sufficiently soaked in soju before it was time to eat.

Raw shrimp in soju – taste and texture!

So whilst I truly love raw fish, most like tuna, or salmon seems very natural, but the sheer difference between a raw and a cooked shrimp is like night and day. Cooked shrimp is very pink, raw shrimp is grayer than a bank holiday sky in the UK.

You thus get served a raw grey shrimp that is wet from he soju, which you then proceed to peel like a normal shrimp. This would have gone great with wasabi, but alas and as previously mentioned this was not an option. Instead I mixed it with the Khmer classic of lime and Kampot pepper, as well as the sweet chili sauce you have with Khmer oysters.

To read about Khmer oysters click here .

Of all the great seafood we had that night, the raw shrimp in soju was for me at least by far the standout dish. A great texture, the warmth of soju and all of this made into a great Khmer fusion affair with the citrus of lime coupled with Kampot pepper.

Overall a great night out! Of course not all of the soju was mixed with shrimp, with the vast majority instead being drunk, in of course copies amounts! But two great new discoveries anyway, probably the best seafood buffet in Phnom Penh and raw shrimp in soju.

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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