Giant prawns, langoustine or whatever you call them, are a bit pricey but once in a special summer eve’s while, they make a super fast, mega tasty supper dish.
Living just eight minutes from a rocky inlet, a local beauty spot perfect for a quick dip and snorkel, it figures that seafood and all things fishy should make up a good part of my diet here in Malta. Sadly, that’s not the case as, like most places in Europe, fish isn’t a cheap option, and certainly not giant prawns, even though local fishermen moor up right by our watering hole and fave weekend beach bar. It still takes a bit of an effort for us to choose and cook fish for supper. Once you do opt for fish, whether crustacean or steak, the secret is to do as little to it as possible. Let the flavour flood without masking it.
A dash of white wine, a few threads of saffron (or sprinkle of turmeric), passata, some fresh parsley and garlic and you’re done. I rustled this up for the first time a week ago for a dinner party; a no-no, I know, doing something you’ve not made before when you’ve guests. Today, that bit more relaxed, I had time to not fret over whether I’d de-veined them thoroughly.
I served them with some wild rice for a dash of pepper & salt flecked colour to offset the orange. Reserve some whole ones for diners to peel themselves; don’t forget ample finger bowls and paper napkins! If you’ve kids at the table, you’ll be surprised how they throw themselves into dissecting prawns with little fingers. They seem to be fascinated by seeing the body – and dare I say, sucking out the head – and it’s not a bad thing for them to know the provenance of those little pink things they’ve probably only seen frozen.
All images © Liz Ayling 2014
- 500g wild rice
- a little water or stock
- 20 giant prawns
- 1 red onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- large glass of dry white wine
- pinch of saffron threads or 2 tsps turmeric powder
- 2 rounded tbsps tomato puree’ or passata
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- sea salt & fresh milled black pepper
- Rinse the rice, shake well and then place in a deep saucepan, cover with ample boiling water from a kettle and boil leaving the rice grains al dente. When it’s ready, drain, and leave in a sieve over the empty but hot saucepan with the lid on. This will keep it warm while you cook the prawns and sauce.
- Rinse the prawns thoroughly and pat dry. Leave on kitchen paper to drain for now.
- Peel and dice finely both the onion and garlic cloves. Heat a cast-iron or heavy-based frying pan and add 2 tbsps olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic to soften but not brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the remaining tbsp olive oil to the pan and when hot, add the giant prawn in batches til they deepen in colour. Add the glass of wine, tomato puree, saffron or turmeric and deglaze the pan, continuing to cook the prawns for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the prawns with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the cooked onion and garlic to the pan, stir once and turn off the heat for now while you deal with the prawns.
- When the prawns are cool enough to handle, twist off the heads, peel and de-vein. Reserve a couple whole per person.
- Return the prawns to the pan, tossing and heating through thoroughly. Add a little water or stock if the sauce is too thick or drying out.
- Serve the rice in warmed serveware or in the frying pan with the prawn sauce on top, and with whole prawns laid over to dress. Sprinkle over some fresh chopped parsley.
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