The traditional food for me at Christmas is prawns. For Stuart it’s ham and I’ve written about finding a nitrate-free ham previously here. It’s a good Christmas story if you are looking for a light read. But back to me and my need for prawns on the table at Christmas.
Growing up we had steamed prawns on Christmas Eve. Small batches were lovingly steamed over beer with healthy lashings of Old Bay Seasoning. They were served up hot with traditional cocktail sauce for dipping. Luckily when I moved to Australia I discovered that prawns are a Christmas tradition here as well. Australians consume a massive 45,000 tonnes of prawns over the festive season.
So where do all these prawns come from you ask? We are lucky here in Australia as the Spencer Gulf prawn fishery was the first sustainable wild caught prawn fishery in the world. If possible you should always consume sustainably caught wild fisheries over farmed seafood. Unregulated aquaculture in some countries is doing irreparable harm to coastal environments and is definitely not sustainable. If you want to find out more about this check out the work of Goldman Environmental Prize winning activist Jorge Varela. Sure the prawns are cheap, but is it worth the destruction of the natural habitat?
Further, farmed seafood can trigger migraines in some owing to the artificial feed that sustains the animals. Just like everything else, you are what you eat. A feed that is high in metals or preservatives will bioaccumulate in the animal providing the next consumer a very high dose of some type of unknown nastie. Do yourself, and the environment, a favour and stick to sustainably fished whenever possible.
Sorry to have digressed to my marine biologist roots, now back to the regularly scheduled food blog….
No, Australians don’t “throw a prawn on the barbie”. I personally don’t think that prawns do that well on the barbecue as it dries them out too much. I mean the whole point of the prawn is that sweet, yet salty, succulent morsel. I prefer mine steamed and served cold in this Australian summer heat that is the Christmas season. Stuart doesn’t like cold prawns, but loves a good garlic prawn. So, I’ve developed my own foolproof method for the most succulent garlic prawns you will ever have. Enjoy my friends.
Migraineur’s Garlic Prawns
The best part of garlic prawns is crusty bread to sop up the cooking juices!
Required skills: cook in butter without burning; setting a timer and doing things when it dings.
Seriously easy, foolproof succulent prawns every time as long as you trust the recipe. Can be served as a starter, main or part of a tapas spread. Be sure and have plenty of crusty bread on hand to sop up the cooking juices. This could be done on a barbecue to avoid heating up the kitchen, as long as you use a heavy bottomed pan and never an aluminum foil BBQ tray.
- 6 prawns per person or about 500 gm (1 lb) for three people
- 250 gms (1 stick) good quality salted butter
- 1 head of garlic
- Heavy bottomed, ovenproof pan so that your prawns fit in tightly
- Preheat your oven to 250C (450F). While the oven is heating put the heavy bottomed, ovenproof pan in the oven on the highest rack to get hot. Pop a good amount of butter into the pan. When melted there should be to a depth of about 1 cm (½ inch). This should be about 10 minutes.
- Prepare the garlic by slicing thinly. It’s really up to you as to how much, we don’t like it too garlicy, most migraineurs don’t, as their sense of taste is magnified compared to non-sufferers, so I do 2-3 cloves depending on their size. The garlic is sliced so as not to burn, but melt into the hot butter.
- If using fresh prawns remove the heads (reserve to make stock from), shell them leaving a bit on the tail and remove the “vein” (it’s really a digestive tract) from the back.
- Check on the butter in the oven after about 10 minutes. It should be bubbling nicely. Toss in the sliced garlic and pop it back into the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Place the prawns in a single layer into the pan and return to the oven.
- Check the prawns at 3 minutes to see how they are doing. Once they start to pink up you should flip them. This will take between 3 and 5 minutes depending on the size of the prawns and the heat of the oven. Don’t worry if the butter is starting to brown. That’s the good bit!
- Return to the oven for another 2 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the stove for a few minutes. The prawns will finish cooking and rest allowing the sweetness to be locked in.
So my friends, what is your favourite way to serve prawns?