Prawns with Pernod

I’m such a lover of the anise flavour that obviously I’m also a fan of Pastis even if it is seen as a bit of a grandmother’s drink. Now that I’ve bailed out of dry January as as unfair bad performance review just tipped me over the edge in what is already the year’s most miserable month, I may well have a tipple of the stuff tonight. Although pastis is a French liqueur, using anise flavoured booze with prawns is actually more of a Greek tradition. I have fond memories of a lovely restaurant in Thessaloniki where we had prawns with a cream and Sambuca sauce. I saw this recipe in ‘Nopi’ and it reminded me of that dish. However, after Christmas indulgence I didn’t really want the cream so this recipe with just a bit of feta seemed a good trade off.

Serves 4


  • 600g king prawns
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 120g feta
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 fennels
  • 180ml pernod (or any other brand of Pastis)
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 70g butter
  • 20g tarragon
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • salt


1.) Strip the thyme leaves from the sprigs, mix with the 2 tbsp olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Zest the lemon and add to the bowl and peel and finely dice the garlic and add that. Put the prawns in the bowl, mix everything and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour.

2.) Chop the feta into cubes and add to a small bowl with the chilli flakes and oregano. Give it a stir and also leave to marinate in the fridge.

3.) In the meantime, finely slice the fennels and the tarragon. Measure out the stock.

4.) After an hour, heat up a frying pan and cook the prawns until they’re pink and set aside on a plate.

5.) Add the fennel to the pan and cook for about 7 minutes until soft. Pour in the stock and measure out the pernod and pour that in too.

6.) Let this reduce to about 1/3, reduce the heat, add the tarragon and butter and let the butter melt to a creamy sauce.

7.) Add the prawns back into the pan then place the spinach on top of everything. Leave for a couple of minutes so the prawns can warm up and the spinach wilts.

8.) Divide up the prawns and fennel mix, sprinkle with sumac. Take the feta out the fridge and spoon a bit onto each plate.

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