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Prawns with Creole Sauce

July 27, 2006

I like to keep a couple of bags of prawns in the freezer – one of raw shelled prawns and one with the heads and shells still on.

They can be thawed quickly in some warm water and then used in a large variety of dishes.

Green prawns in their shells are best when you want to have whole prawns for presentation, or you want to use the heads for stock. Prawn heads have a lot of flavour. If you’ve ever been to a teppanyaki restaurant where the chef has saved the heads and then flattened them out and given them a high temperature searing on the grill plate, pressing them down to release the juices and concentrate the taste before presenting you with crispy, highly flavoured morsels to nibble on, you will know what I mean. I think they’re the crustacean equivalent of pork crackling.

But shelled prawns have convenience on their side. Because they don’t take long to cook, they are generally added in the final stages of a dish. They can be added to risotto, popped into curries, marinated with garlic and chillies then added to a stirfry, plunged into pad thai or tom yum soup, or served on a salad with a zesty dressing.

During winter, though, it’s good to make a well flavoured Cajun sauce for the prawns. While grits might be more usual in Louisiana, I think couscous makes a good alternative. Use instant couscous and follow the packet directions.

Prawns with Creole Sauce

1 tablespoon oil
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery cut into slices
1 can peeled tomatoes in tomato juice
2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken stock or fish stock
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon chilli paste – more if you like it
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 bayleaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
500g raw shelled prawns, defrosted
fresh coriander for garnish

Heat the oil and gently sauté the onion, red pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, chilli paste, cayenne, bayleaves, stock, wine and lime juice and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes then add the prawns and simmer for a further five minutes or until the prawns are cooked.

Serve with couscous and sprinkle with chopped coriander.


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