A sexy king prawn dish
If you’re staying in for Valentine’s and plan on wooing your loved one at home, cooking something special is a good start. I’m not talking about aphrodisiac foods here, but something that not only looks like you have gone to a lot of effort but tastes great and, most importantly, is easy enough to do.
This a very classic dish, but with the pink and red colours of the prawn and sauce contrasting with the green of the asparagus, it looks the part for a Valentine’s dinner.
Start by buying a couple, or a few, of the biggest king prawns you can find. I saw some huge ones, the size of small lobsters (priced at €40 per kilo), for sale last weekend at Armação de Pêra fish market.
These are, of course, frozen prawns, sold defrosted in this case, but they are wild, imported from East Africa and of very good quality.
Start by removing the head and shell, leaving just the tail intact. Then trim the meat where the head was removed and make an incision down the back to remove the poop tube – this will also help speed up the cooking.
Most of the flavour in this dish comes from the heads and shells that are used to make the sauce. Cut the heads in half, lengthways, and fry them gently in unsalted butter with some sliced onion and/or fresh fennel in a frying pan, along with the shells until they change colour and start to smell wonderful.
Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with a small glass of white wine.
Transfer to a small saucepan and cover with water, allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes then give the heads a good mash in the pan to get out all the goodness before straining. You will be left with a pink-coloured prawn stock.
Reduce down by half, add cream and cook for a few more minutes to thicken slightly. At this stage, you can make the sauce a little more decadent by stirring in some softened butter and a dash of cognac.
Finish with chopped fresh tarragon and, if you have some, a drizzle of good truffle oil. Season with salt to taste (very little is required).
To cook the prawn, pan fry it in unsalted butter until the tail starts to curl and it is just cooked. Pour the sauce into the base of a warmed plate and then arrange the prawns on top of the sauce with a couple of stalks of cooked asparagus.
Serve with a nice pink bubbly.
By PATRICK STUART Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org