21. Jul, 2018

How to Cook Prawns like a Pro

You all know that I’m enthusiastic promoter of Portuguese Food l know that no matter how many juicy and tender dishes I turn out, and no matter how exquisitely prepared my various peri-peri dishes are, nothing fires up an appetite for Portuguese Cuisine quite the way that seafood does. Much like the Greeks and Italians (both ancient and modern), the geography of Europe shows that the Portuguese have a long-standing and passionate love affair with the sea. Their regional diets are packed with seafood in every form, whether it’s the famous salted codfish Portuguese Specialty Known as Bacalhau, or a bubbling pan of Cataplana Algarve Specialty of mixed seafood in a tomato, peppers  and white wine sauce).The undisputed king of Portuguese Dishes, however, are prawns, and the tastes acquired using diferente sauces over the decades prove it time and time again! So what has made prawns the king dish at our home? It’s all in the preparation. While prawns are nowadays widely available, many home cooks would prefer to leave this delicious aspect of Portuguese cuisine to the experts, and avoid preparing them at home as though they were the most difficult thing in the world to work with! But here I am to bust the myth wide open, and to provide you with a prawn preparation guide that will have you rushing out to your local fishmonger so you can try them out in your own kitchen!

Luisa and I love prawns for their naturally sweet, meaty flavour, their versatility and the speed with which they can be prepared. In this world of red meat, prawns are probably the fastest-cooking option you could choose, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be easily ruined! Follow my cleaning and preparation advice and I’m sure that your prawns will be the tastiest and most tender of your neighborhood. This is important: Fresh prawns are extremely perishable, and start to degrade as soon as they are dead. Get in touch with your fishmonger and ask which days they receive fresh prawns, and aim to get them just as they come in. This may be a bit harder in areas away from the coastal areas. We always try to cook fresh prawns but failing this It is always preferable to buy frozen prawns (with the shells still on). Frozen seafood is typically flash frozen on the fishing ships, meaning they have had no time to sit in liquid or air and become old, so these are your best bet if absolute freshness is unavailable. Defrosting: If you do decide to go with frozen prawns, make sure you defrost them inside the fridge, and not by plunging them into hot water or worse – cooking them from frozen). Ensure they are properly dried first if you plan on frying or grilling them, as excess water will lower the heat of your pan or grill and cause the prawns to leak water and boil instead. Deveining: I have to admit  it that this isn’t the most pleasant task ( Luisa always carries it out to perfection.) but i must stress that it is important for an out-of-this-world prawn dish! Make sure you have a sharp pair of scissors and a paring knife to help you get through the shells easily without crushing the tender flesh, and that you remove the vein as well as you possibly can with the tip of the paring knife, to avoid any grit or sand that may still be present in the body of the prawn. Overcooking: Overcooked prawns are dry, flavorless and rubbery, and I’m willing to bet that overcooking is the number one problem that occurs when cooking prawns at home.

As a rule of thumb, a normal sized prawn will require no more than 2 minutes on each side. The flesh should be just firm and white, and should be juicy when you bite into it. Generally, if the prawn is floppy and straight, it is undercooked. When curled into a C-shape, they’re just about done, and if they curl even further, into an O-shape, they’re past the point of no return. Ingredients: 18 wild Ocean prawns with the shell on, deveined and cleaned. 1/4 cup butter.  a dash of extra virgin olive oil.1 garlic clove crushed, 2 big lemons one cut in half and the other cut in slices, fresh salt & fresh ground black pepper, fresh chopped parsley, Piri Piri sauce, to taste. Preparation:  Place butter, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, half of the lemon juice some fresh parsley in a small saucepan. Heat until butter melts and is infused with the garlic and lemon. Lay the prepared prawns out on a platter, Season lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly baste with the previously prepared lemon butter. Heat the charcoal  and wait until the ambers are red. Use a grill that has two sides and can be closed allowing for flipping over ( in Portugal we call it a sardine grill)  place aluminum foil on one side, distribute the lemon slices on top of the foil through out the length of the grill, now lay the prawns on its sides, and baste again with with some lemon butter. Place the grill with the aluminum foil side facing the coals and grill  for 3 minutes them flip over for another minute. Transfer shrimp to serving platter when done and pour remaining lemon butter-sauce  on top. If everyone agrees Serve with Piri Piri and grilled lemon slices, if not each one can use the amount of piri piri they desire. Enjoy my dear friends don’t forget to leave your comments on my page.