Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lime and Thai Chili Prawns

Prawns, Prawns and More Prawns (or shrimp perhaps)

Prawning used to be considered hard work, but it’s easier and considerably more fun now that we have a pot puller. (link) An empty prawn trap doesn’t weigh all that much, but when lowered 300 to 400 feet underwater at the end of a sinking line, well it grows a lot heavier. Believe it! Add the drag from a single 24-inch sunstar (multi-armed starfish) and it feels like you are pulling a barn door through heavy, sticky mud when you retrieve the pot. Even without a starfish, a good catch of prawns requires major muscle effort, and that’s just the first pot! Now the motorized pot puller supplies mechanical muscle and saves ours.

But I just run the skiff and let the Capt have fun pulling the prawn traps. Then it’s my job to pinch their little heads off, clean them, separate them by size and finally cook the catch.

Photo: a typical lunch of just-cooked prawns and green salad
Peel-and-eat is a typical use for the smaller shrimp, or they might fill a taco or quesadilla, flavor a soup or bisque, add interest to a pasta dish or decorate a salad (think Shrimp Louis). Very large prawns deserve something a bit more special, a preparation to complement their natural flavor without overwhelming it.

This week we enjoyed a new recipe, a tangy combination of prawns, lime and Thai sweet chili sauce. What was so special about prawns and sauce? Sweet heat with a bit of sour plus just-harvested seafood – now that's a winner! It also took mere minutes to prepare once the prawns were cleaned, and that's always a bonus.

Prawns with Lime and Sweet Chili
Adapted from The Essential Seafood Cookbook

Serves 3-4

24 extra large prawns/shrimp
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or use garlic paste)
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 green onions, chopped (use green and white sections)
grated lime zest (as desired)

Remove heads and peel 24 very large raw prawns/shrimp, cut in half lengthwise and devein.(see note below if using smaller shrimp)

Combine crushed garlic cloves, Thai sweet chili sauce, lime juice and olive oil.

Add the prawns to the marinade and toss well to coat . Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the prawns; barbecue, grill or sauté until just cooked through, brushing with some of the remaining marinade. If pan sautéing, add remaining sauce just before prawns completely finish.

Top with minced green onions and a sprinkle of grated lime zest.

Note: if using large or even medium prawns use them whole. Don’t bother halving the smaller ones lengthwise or they might cook too quickly. 

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