Prawns in beer sauce

I’m now doing a month’s alcohol detox as I never made it through dry January so it was a little sad to use beer in cooking without being able to drink any but this was a tasty dinner which I enjoyed. In the last couple of years I’ve really started to enjoy porter and stout beers and a result of my detox I’ve found a really great alcohol free Milk Stout from the company Big Drop. Also, I had a girly dinner at Salvi’s Italian restaurant in Manchester yesterday and they had Crodino on the menu which is like an alcohol free Aperol spritz but actually a little nicer in my opinion as it’s a little sweeter. So there’s a couple of ideas for you if you’re doing non-alcohol. The beer prawn recipe was again in the Vietnamese Market Cookbook. I did change it up a bit by adding tomatoes to the sauce and serving it with rice noodles and broccoli to make it more of a meal.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 250ml beer (I used Birra Morreti)
  • 1 bunch fresh lemongrass
  • 300g prawns
  • 250g tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • rice noodles
  • 200g broccoli
  • 10g coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the lemongrass into stalks

2.) Chop up the tomatoes

3.) Add both to a large frying pan and add the beer

4.) Cook down the tomatoes and lemongrass until the tomatoes really break down and most of the beer has cooked down into a sauce

5.) Add the prawns and simmer until cooked through. Chop up the coriander leaves finely. Slice the lime in half.

6.) Add the rice noodles into a sauce pan with the broccoli. Cover with boiling water and cook until the noodles and broccoli is tender.

7.) Take the lemongrass and discard. Squeeze the lime juice into the sauce. Serve the noodles and broccoli with the prawns and sauce. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves.

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

Thai Salad

We’re hopefully on the last stretch of the lockdown now and it’s got to the point where I’ve watched so much TV that I’m able to guess the plot twists . However, holidays are in sight now so hopefully I can stay sane before then!

This Thai salad is from Phaidon’s – Thailand – the cookbook. It’s a big book full of authentic recipes and there’s some stuff that’s pretty out there for us westerners – particularly the recipes containing ants. I couldn’t find any squid for this recipe but just used a frozen fish mix of cubed fish instead and you can’t really go wrong, the dressing is so complimentary with any fish and tastes like a Thai salad from the restaurant. Also, I just can’t get enough of the tinned hearts of palm – I must admit – a couple didn’t make it in the salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 300g frozen fish pie mix
  • 100g cooked prawns
  • 2 tins hearts of palm
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • 1 mango
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 5 spring onions
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp chilli paste

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.) Line a baking tray and spread out the fish

3.) Bake for about 15 minutes, until the fish is hot

4.) In the meantime, julienne the drained hearts of palm, mango, carrot and spring onion and add to a mixing bowl

5.) Peel and chop the onions into small pieces and add to the mixing bowl

6.) Chop the coriander up and add that too.

7.) In another bowl, mix the fish sauce, chilli paste and sugar. Slice the lime in half and squeeze in the juice. Mix until the sugar is dissolved and pour in the mixing bowl.

8.) Add the fish pieces and the prawns. Stir to coat all the ingredients with the dressing and serve.