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Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Kingdom of a King Prawn

King Prawns Poached in oil with caramelized onion buttermilk sauce served with Lime Sabayon, poached garlic, preserved prawn roe in oil

Cooking king prawns is a challenge, they look fantastic in the fish market, giant body, big claws, hues of blue all over the body, it looks like an alien animal to me at times, inside the crust of this crustacean lays the tender soft flesh, which is a delicate protein. In India there are so many amazing recipes with prawns n king prawns and one of them is the timeless classic: Chingrir Malaicurry aka Prawn Malaicurry, some people say they are the best with king prawns, I don’t think so, they are just as good if not better with medium sized prawns, but if you are cooking with king prawns it will be a huge disappointment when you end up with solid hard prawns, literally overcooked. But then when I think of it, it has become an established texture in here when it comes to prawns, we do eat prawns when they are not very soft but a bit firm, a bit chewy and we enjoy it, but sometimes it’s goes a bit too much due to overcooking, I remember eating king prawns at house-parties where they have become so solid, eating that was a mess.

While creating this recipe I approached the king prawns softly, ha-ha, well I mean I cooked them, beginning at low temperature, because the prawn protein is delicate n overcooks easily at high temperatures, low temperature cooking gives a great result, I start with immersing the marinated prawns in cold oil and I let the oil go hot slowly but I never let the oil reach a very high temperature, for doing this first of all you need a thick bottom saucepan, if you don’t have that you can always layer a saucepan over another flat pan or over a heat diffuser, in that way the temperature will be consistent n never go high quickly. Cooked in this way the prawns will stay soft n moist even after hours.

I infused the oil with dry red chili n garlic n red onion; the infused oil delivers the flavor to the prawns submerged in them. I serve the prawns with white rice; the best combination possible with lime sabayon which is light, foamy n has the citrus flavor. The poached onions are further sautéed in the pan concentrating their flavor even more n I finish them with buttermilk which gives a slight tang.

You can fry the shells in hot oil until they go crispy and you can eat them! They will provide the crispy crunch in the dish. The prawn roe preserved in oil adds a unique flavor; it has that umami rich flavor which is still mellow n just wonderful. For a little sweetness I used red bell pepper jus but it is just optional. For freshness the use of fresh coriander leaves is unbeatable, I love the flavor that goes so well with this dish, the sesame micro herbs doesn’t provide a boost of flavor but adds a fresh crunch n nutrition to the whole thing.

I used cumin thyme salt in the final serving, I keep it at a place so that someone can eat it at their will, for preparing the salt you need to roast some cumin seed on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until they becomes fragrant n then crush them to a coarse powder, mix sea salt along with dry thyme leaves with the cumin powder and you got thyme cumin salt.

So now I will take you to the recipe.

For The Recipe: You will need

For the Prawns:
King prawns- 200 gm take the vein out from the tail end but keep the shells on
Vegetable oil – 2 cups
Shallots or red onion- 1 medium, sliced
Garlic -6 medium cloves, cut into long thin slices
Buttermilk- 4 tbsp
Turmeric- ½ tsp
Dry red chili-1 medium, chopped roughly
Red chili powder- ¼ tsp
Cumin powder-1/4 tsp
Red chili flakes- ¼ tsp

For the Sabayon:
Egg yolk-2
Butter-30 gm, melted
Lime/lemon-1 tbsp
Water- 1 n 1/2 tbsp
White wine- 1 tbsp
Black pepper

For the prawn roe in oil:
Prawn roe, extracted from the belly of the prawns in any- as much as u get
Vegetable oil- 4 tbsp
Salt- some pinches

1. Begin by marinating the prawns with shells with turmeric n salt, sprinkle the turmeric n salt n leave them for about 15-25 minutes, after that time wash them well in water to remove the excess salt n turmeric n pat them dry. Take a saucepan which is narrow, in that way you can get a good height of oil to submerge the prawns in a little amount of oil, so pour the vegetable oil in a heavy bottom narrow saucepan n add the sliced onion n the garlic n chili slices, if you don’t have a heavy bottom saucepan, keep the saucepan on top of another frying pan, then put the heat on to low to medium, we are infusing the oil with the garlic n onion, you need to give it about 10-15 minutes like this, at the end of the time the garlic n onion will seem to sizzle slightly  n leave bubbles from them, the garlic should not change color, they will still remain white n the onions will be very soft, take them out with a spoon n put them in another frying pan, put the narrow saucepan away from the heat for 5 minutes, then add the prawns in the oil making sure they submerge in the oil completely and put them on low heat, keep aside some of the garlic poached previously n add the rest in this oil,  nothing will seem to happen at first but the work is already happening, the mild heat of the oil is poaching them gently, give them about 5-8 minutes in oil, as time passes the prawns will turn very red or orange n will begin to leave bubbles from them n sizzle slightly in that oil, check after 7 minutes by taking out a prawn n cutting it through with a knife, it should be white inside n should be very soft, they will be ready after 8-10 minutes, take them out.

2. Put the frying pan with the onions on low medium heat, let the onions brown a bit, and when they are brown add the red chili flakes, chili powder n cumin powder along with salt n 2 tbsp buttermilk, give them 2 minutes, if they buttermilk has completely dried up add the rest now, mix well, taste n adjust, its ready.

3. For preserving the prawn roe in oil, sprinkle salt over the roe, heat the oil in a pan but not to smoke point, then pour the medium hot oil over the roe, give them an hour, this oil n the roe is now ready to be used, will stay in the freeze for 2 weeks.

4. For the sabayon, combine the egg yolks n water n white wine in a bowl, whisk with a wire whisk over a bain-marie until the eggs become very light n airy, take the bowl off the heat every 10 seconds to make sure the eggs don’t scramble,  taste it after 1 minute of whisking, it should not taste very much of eggs, keep whisking for 1 minute, when the mixture becomes airy take it off the heat and continue whisking it until it becomes very light, then add the melted butter, then add the lime juice n season with salt n pepper, this light lime froth is ready to be served.

So we are done, for serving I will suggest white rice goes amazing with these prawns, take a little rice, add the caramelized onion sauce over them, then add some of the reserved garlic cloves n some roe, take the shells out of the king prawns and add some fresh coriander or parsley n little bit of sabayon, take a bite, let the eyes remain closed, Bon appétit.