Prawns piri piri

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

We now have a wide range of prawns on offer in most good fishmongers, although many still just offer those black-headed pre-cooked frozen things that give prawns a bad name. Prawns freeze well in their raw state and this allows fishmongers to offer us everything from the giant Mozambiques (which can weigh almost as much as a small lobster) down to various-sized tiger prawns and the tiniest brown shrimps or crevettes grises.

We now have a wide range of prawns on offer in most good fishmongers, although many still just offer those black-headed pre-cooked frozen things that give prawns a bad name. Prawns freeze well in their raw state and this allows fishmongers to offer us everything from the giant Mozambiques (which can weigh almost as much as a small lobster) down to various-sized tiger prawns and the tiniest brown shrimps or crevettes grises.

Try to buy the largest prawns that you can find for this - in my experience good frozen ones are reasonably priced in Asian supermarkets. Some say prawns from cold waters have a better flavour, but I have never really been convinced of this; certainly I do know that I prefer sea-water prawns to those from fresh waters.

If you are squeamish about heads on prawns, then remove them or buy headless ones. Shellfish lovers, though, do generally like to enjoy every part of the fish they can.

Piri piri is an Angolan name for a type of small hot chilli, and the term came to be used all over the Portuguese empire for hot dishes, usually of fish and meat, prepared this way.

About 750g-1kg large prawns, preferably still with their heads and shells on
45g (or more to taste) mild red chillies
Half a red pepper, deseeded
4tbsp olive oil
A good pinch of salt
Lemon or lime wedges, to serve

If, like me, you prefer leaving the shells on, with a sharp, serrated knife simply cut into the body along the back of the prawn to reveal the black vein. Rinse the prawns carefully under cold water, running your finger down their backs to remove the black veins, then pat dry on kitchen paper. If you prefer them peeled, simply peel the body shell away, leaving the head and tail attached. In a blender or liquidiser, blend the chillies, red pepper, olive oil and salt until smooth, then mix carefully with the prawns and store in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of hours at least.

You can either barbecue the prawns or cook them on a griddle pan. Preheat either well. For ease of cooking and turning on a barbecue, it's better to thread the prawns on a metal skewer. Cook the prawns for about 2-3 minutes on each side for medium-sized ones or a couple of minutes more for large. Turn them sooner if they are beginning to burn (or move them to a cooler part of the barbecue). Serve with lemon or lime wedges.

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