Shellfish pleasures: Mark Hix cooks with prawns

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Whether fresh or frozen, prawns are among the most versatile seafood

Prawns must be one of the most adaptable of all shellfish and I always like to keep some at hand in the freezer (along with peas) as an emergency stock item as they defrost quickly and can be tossed in a salad or pasta or used to finish off a risotto. There's no shame whatever in cooking with frozen prawns and peas and I very much doubt even the most sophisticated palate would be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen.

I have recently been working a bit with Birds Eye and their sustainable emperor prawns. These salt water emperor prawns are cooked within two hours of being caught so they are as high-quality as you get with fresh market prawns.

Tortillas with guacamole prawns and chilli salsa

Makes 20

If you use large shop-bought tortillas or even Turkish flatbread and cut them down into little squares, circles or triangles, you can turn them into little bases that are perfect for Mexican, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean canapés.

A piece of tortilla or flatbread large enough to cut 20 x 2cm squares, circles or triangles
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
Half a ripe avocado
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and a good pinch of cayenne pepper
20 emperor prawns, defrosted, or fresh Red Sea prawns

For the chilli salsa

tbsp olive oil
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 medium-sized chilli, finely chopped
A pinch of pimento or paprika
A few sprigs of coriander, finely chopped, plus a few sprigs to garnish

Cut the tortilla into 20 squares, circles or triangles plus a few extras. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and then cook the tortillas on a medium heat for 30 seconds or so on each side until crisp, then remove from the pan and drain on some kitchen paper.

To make the salsa, heat the olive oil in a pan and gently cook the spring onion and chilli for 30 seconds; remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl, leave to cool a little and then add the coriander and the pimento or paprika. Mash the avocado up with the lemon, cayenne and salt.

To serve, halve the prawns lengthways, spoon the avocado on to the tortilla, arrange two halves of prawn on top, followed by a little chilli salsa; then finish with a sprig of coriander.

Spaghettini with scampi tails and samphire

Serves 4

Dublin bay prawns or langoustines are great stretched out into a pasta course and for a dish like this you can use peeled frozen scampi tails as they will be more consistent – and cheaper than finding live langoustines and cooking and peeling them.

4 servings of spaghettini
20-24 scampi tails
100g butter
200ml fish stock
100ml white wine
2-3tbsp olive oil
A handful or so of samphire with any woody stalks removed

Cook the spaghettini in boiling salted water according to manufacturer's cooking instructions and then drain in a colander, reserving a little of the water. Melt half of the butter in a frying pan, season and cook the scampi tails for a couple of minutes without colouring them, then remove from the pan.

Add the fish stock and wine to the pan and boil until it has reduced down to a couple of tablespoons, then add the samphire, the rest of the butter and the olive oil.

Stir on a low heat for a minute, then add the scampi and pasta, season to taste and add a little of the cooking water and more olive oil if the pasta is a bit dry. Serve immediately.

Vietnamese prawn salad

Serves 4

I just love the freshness of Vietnamese herbs and the way they are traditionally used in simple salads. My friend Hieu has recently opened a new branch of his restaurant Cay Tre in the heart of Soho – and he always has a great selection of salads on his menu with these delicious fragrant raw herbs – which, for me, is what makes Vietnamese food unique.

A couple of handfuls of Vietnamese herbs, washed (sawtooth, parilla, coriander, Thai basil, knotweed etc)

1 small carrot, peeled, thinly sliced and shredded into matchstick-like pieces
6 spring onions, thinly sliced on the angle
8 mangetout, finely shredded
24 or so emperor prawns, or Red Sea prawns

For the dressing

1tbsp fish sauce
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2tsp caster sugar
1tbsp black rice vinegar
30g ginger or galangal, finely grated
The juice of 1 lime

First, mix all of the ingredients together for the dressing and leave to stand for an hour. Toss the herbs with the carrot, spring onion, mangetout and prawns and season. Arrange on plates and serve.

Brown shrimp patties with fried quails' eggs

Makes 12 little snacks

Brown shrimps are a unique shellfish that have many uses beyond potted shrimps.

100g peeled brown shrimps
3tbsp chopped chives
2tbsp Dove's Farm gluten-free self-raising flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cold water to mix
12 quails' eggs
Vegetable or corn oil for frying

Put the shrimps and chives in a bowl with the flour and add enough water to make a fairly stiff batter; season well. Test a teaspoonful by heating a little oil

in a frying pan and dropping the mixture in to make a flat pattie, fry for a minute or so on each side until crisp, then test the seasoning and re-season and adjust the consistency if necessary.

Cook 12 flat patties as above using a dessert spoon and get them as crisp as possible.

To cook the quails' eggs, crack them into little pots, gently heat the oil in a preferably non-stick frying pan, carefully tip them into the pan and cook them on a low heat until just set. Serve an egg on each pattie.

Mark Hix was recently awarded the Evelyn Rose Award for Cookery Journalist of the Year by the Guild of Food Writers

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee