It's been pretty quiet here in the malabar tea room, and I apologize for that. However, it has been anything but quiet in our day-to-day lives. Mom and I went on a short holiday to Singapore where along with my sister, we walked and ate our way through the beautiful city. I also discovered a wonderful breakfast treat which I will blog about soon. We got back home early this week, just in time for my father's birthday. We planned a surprise dinner for him, and if he had a clue about it, he gamely played along and looked surprised when the guests arrived, presents in hand.
Anyway, I am telling you all this, dear readers, because there is a gem of a recipe involved. I picked up Ina Garten's Back to Basics while in Singapore, and was impatiently waiting to try something out. Although I have to admit that this was not the first recipe that called out to me (that would be the sweet potato fries [yay, carbs!], in case you were wondering), it got mom very excited and we decided to include it in the menu for the birthday dinner.
Even though it makes me nervous to try out a recipe for the first time when having people over, I figured things wouldn't get too out of hand under mom's supervision. Besides, this recipe is pretty straightforward and there's very little room for bloopers. However, I do have one word of advice: make sure the butter is soft, but not melted when making the sauce, or the whole thing will be a runny mess (especially once you add the egg). Oh, and another thing: if you're tossing the prawns in the marinade with your hands, watch out for the razor-sharp tails. Ouch.
But the end result more than made up for the few scratches i picked up on the way- the butter sauce formed a gorgeous, rich coating around the prawn- in some places crisp; soft and creamy in others. The prawn nestled inside, tender and perfectly cooked and none of that fishiness that I so dislike. If you would like the prawns to be very crispy, place the dish under a grill for a minute after taking it out of the oven.
What makes this dish a great one if you're entertaining is that it can be prepped ahead of time, and then assembled and popped into the oven at the very last minute. This also gives the prawns ample time to soak in the marinade. If you find that you don't have dried rosemary or parsley at hand, feel free to use oregano. I bet it tastes just as good.
(adapted from Ina Garten's 'Back to Basics')
1/2 kg prawn shelled (leaving the tails on), deveined and butterflied *
For the marinade:
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the butter sauce:
100 gm salted butter at room temperature
4 tsp minced garlic
1/8 cup minced shallots
1 tbsp dried and minced parsley
1 tbsp rosemary, dried and minced
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime zest
2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste
*a butterflied prawn is a prawn that has been cut along the top curve deeply enough to spread open but not cut in half
Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius.
Place prawns in a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil. Season the marinade well. Set aside while you make the butter sauce.
In another mixing bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Season if needed.
One by one, add the prawns into the butter sauce and coat well. In a round or oval gratin dish, arrange them in a single layer.
Pour any remaining butter sauce over the prawns and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the top turns golden.