Monday, 19 November 2012

Giant prawns

A nice and quick one this, as it’s less of a recipe and more of show of great ingredients. 

Last weekend I had a quick after work trip to Borough Market with Katie. It had been a really busy week, and the thought of drifting around a bustling market with a steaming cup of something mulled was too good an opportunity to refuse. As I work on Saturdays, I hardly ever manage get down there so couldn’t wait to get back! 

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to eat a bit more sensibly, mostly cooking up big vegetable stews and soups in an attempt to get in a bit better shape and hopefully save some pennies in the process. I even went as far as promising a friend one drunken night that I would go through the whole of November as a vegetarian, declaring that I could do it with ease. Obviously that didn’t last long. I have generally been good though and I have enjoyed feeling a little bit healthier because of it. I am the sort of person that could eat a good soup or stew every day of the week, so I plan on carrying this on a little longer. However, this doesn’t carry over to weekends, and it’s always so tempting to pig out. 

I had intended to be quite thrifty at Borough too, and it was the perfect chance to get some hard to source ingredients for a meal that I had been meaning to make. Sitting in the park in the cold on my lunch breaks in the week had made me crave warming bowls of mussels with a rich and spicy sauce with cider, tarragon and ‘nduja. The only problem with this is that when you are at Borough, you are surrounded by amazing quality produce and it is so easy to go a bit crazy and buy things by ‘accident’. This occasion was no different, and especially after a mulled cider as the first meal of the day I was a sucker. As I went to buy the mussels that I needed from the large fish stall in the central market, Katie pointed out the massive Madagascan prawns, and in a rash moment I pointed at those as well. 

I had often seen these prawns and wanted to buy them, but mostly I reason that they are too expensive, potentially unsustainable and I’m also not too comfortable with the amount of air miles involved in getting them here. That’s not to say that I only use local ingredients, I don’t, but in the case of the prawns I often just think that there is something better that I could buy from closer to home. However, at that point on Saturday I found those prawns in my bag, and I was quite excited about eating them.

I only had one method of cooking them in mind - fast and simple. When you spend that much on such special ingredients you want them to speak for themselves. Garlic, chilli and lemon go amazingly well with prawns, and the smell and taste of the freshly grilled prawns made me feel like I was on holiday, ripping the shells off whilst sitting at some Mediterranean harbour. If you like you can use the same methods with prawns of any size, just adjust the cooking time to suit. I used a grill, but had this have been summer, a bbq would have been my first choice. 

Serves 2


6 large prawns, shells left on
1 small red chilli
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

To serve:

Good quality mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Turn the grill up to high.

Mix the garlic, chilli, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and some seasoning together in a bowl. Toss the mixture through the prawns, and arrange them on a flat baking tray. 

Put the prawns under the hot grill and cook for 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 3 minutes, or until the shells have turned pink and are sizzling away. 

While the prawns are cooking, mix a few tablespoons of mayo with the juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. 

When the prawns have cooked, squeeze over the other half of lemon juice and sprinkle over a little seasoning. Serve with the mayo and tuck in!

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