“When defrosting your prawns (all prawns sold are blast frozen on the ship at sea, unless of course you’re holidaying on the coast somewhere exotic like Mozambique and Thailand), preferably do so in a bowl in the fridge overnight, or else in a bowl of salted cold water. Never put your prawns in fresh unsalted water to thaw. Never. BECAUSE I SAY SO. It spoils the lovely briny, ocean-y taste.” – Sonia Cabano.
PERI-PERI PRAWNS À LA SONIA
Serves 4 as a starter, 2-3 as a main
- 500 g frozen Argentinian or other top quality prawns
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) neutral tasting oil, like sunflower, peanut or grapeseed
- 1 t (5 ml) chopped red chilli or cayenne/6 crushed dried birds’ eye chillies or to taste
- 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped. Use fresh garlic, as bottled pre-crushed garlic will totally overpower the rest of the ingredients. You don’t even have to chop your fresh garlic, just slice very thinly
- 1 lemon or lime
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry cider or light apple juice
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) tomato passata or 1 T (15 ml) Pesto Princess tomato pesto
- handful or chopped fresh coriander
- lemon wedges, cooked white rice, crusty Portuguese rolls to serve
- Whisk the oil, chilli and garlic together and let stand for an hour or even overnight, so that the flavours can infuse.
- 15-30 minutes before cooking, pour this chilli garlic oil over the thawed prawns and stir through so that each prawn is covered in sauce.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over very high heat and pour a thin film of oil into the pan – just enough to coat the bottom. Remove the prawns from the sauce with a slotted spoon and fry in batches in the pan. Use kitchen tongs or two forks to turn the prawns over, cooking no more than 2-3 minutes in total. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside while you make the sauce.
- Sauce: Once the prawns have been flash-fried, pour the remaining ingredients except water and coriander in the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the caramelized bits from the bottom. Add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime to taste. Cook while stirring for 4-5 minutes, adding dashes of water to prevent it getting too thick. Add the prawns while there is still enough sauce to coat them generously. Turn the heat way down low, and let the prawns swim in the sauce for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off, and remove from the stove. Place a lid on the pan to cover it completely, and let stand for another 2- 3 minutes – this forces the flavour into the prawns and makes them extra good. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Pour yourself a glass of Lanzerac Sauvignon Blanc wine and serve with plenty of rice, bread rolls or chips.
Recipe developed by and supplied with the permission of Sonia Cabano