Two ways to cook ... prawns
Sizzle them in garlic and chilli oil for a Spanish tapa, or poach them gently and make a robust bisque with the roasted shells
Prawns pil pil (left) and poached prawns with prawn bisque, saffron potatoes and garden peas
VANESSA’S WAY... PRAWNS PIL PIL
Along with sizzling skin, my holidays in Spain invariably bank memories of dining outside, bilingual menus and the famous gambas pil pil, prawns in sizzling garlic and chilli oil.
Our tapas workshop is one of the most popular classes in the cookery school. People seem to have shifted to more casual home entertaining, serving a wide variety of appetisers, or snacks, cold or hot, and if you buy a few stuffed peppers, no one bats an eyelid. It’s traditional to cook and serve prawns pil pil in individual piping hot terracotta dishes, with lots of crusty bread to mop up those garlicky juices. I like to serve them in slightly larger dishes in the centre of the table.
Asian supermarkets sell frozen prawns of varying sizes in 1kg bags, so buy a bag with 16-20 prawns per kilo. If you make this with headless prawns still in the shell, remember to serve dipping bowls for wiping sticky fingers as people remove the shells at the table. With very small shrimps, it’s possible to eat the soft shells, I do.
GARY’S WAY... POACHED PRAWNS WITH PRAWN BISQUE, SAFFRON POTATOES AND GARDEN PEAS
We have a love affair with prawns in Ireland. In fact, I’d go as far as saying so too does the rest of the world. The langoustine or Dublin Bay prawn is one of our most cherished ingredients. It’s a season that all chefs look forward to. Prawns offer great versatility. We use them poached, flash fried, grilled in their shells, wrapped in pastry and fried, for chowder, bisque and even in salads and sandwich filings.
For this recipe I’ve opened up the tail, removed the prawn, de-veined them and then roasted the shells and made a bisque or sauce from the stock the shells give you.
It’s a beautiful light summer dish, with saffron potatoes and garden peas as a lovely accompaniment. It takes a bit of time and effort to make the stock from scratch, but trust me, you get out of food what you put in, and this is an effort you won’t regret.