Archive for the ‘Shellfish’ Category

From time to time the supermarket has a 2 for 1 offer on bags of large prawns so I stock up.  I buy the grey uncooked ones which change colour as they cook, just like magic, before your eyes.  I discovered a bag of these large prawns sitting in the freezer waiting for a good recipe shortly after we returned from France and I remembered this recipe and thought it would help keep our recent holiday memories alive: a simple summery dish in a piquant sauce and ideal for a light quick meal.  It would also be good as a starter.  My family’s only complaint was that they would have liked more: perhaps a mixture of large and small prawns would be possible.  Certainly this recipe could just as easily be made with the small relatively inexpensive prawns.  This is also another recipe where I can use the mild flavoured Piment d’Espelette I bought in the Basque region of France.

The recipe comes from the Tesco book Mediterranean Food by Christine France, which is fast becoming one of my favourite titles.  The original recipe used Tiger Prawns, which I am sure would be wonderful, but not what I was intending to use.  In place of a 400g bag of shell on Tiger Prawns I used a 200g bag of uncooked & peeled frozen large prawns.  I added an optional 1tsp tomato purée for extra richness as I did not have plum tomatoes, having substituted ordinary round English ones which are often less sweet, plus a pinch of sugar to bring out the flavour of the fruit.  The quantity was really only enough for a light main meal for three people and if feeding more people more large prawns or some small ones should be added.  Extra tomatoes would also give a larger quantity.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Prawns with Provençal Style Tomato Salsa
(Serves 2-3 – 4 for a starter)

400g/14ozs raw tiger prawns in shells
200g/7ozs shelled tiger prawns, large or small – raw if available
2tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed
¼tsp dried crushed chillies (Piment d’Espelette if available)
3 or 4 plum tomatoes finely chopped (round English tomatoes if plum unavailable)
1tsp tomato purée
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained & finely chopped
2tsp red wine vinegar
6 pitted black olives, quartered
2tbsp chopped fresh basil
Salt & black pepper

1.  If using shell on prawns remove the shells, slit open the back of each one and scrape out any black vein.  Rinse well and pat dry with kitchen towel.

2.  If using frozen prawns they should have been prepared in advance but must be defrosted before cooking.

3.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the garlic and chillies together for one minute to release their flavour.

4.  If using raw prawns, fresh or defrosted, add them now stir fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink and cooked through.  Pre-cooked prawns can be cooked for a shorter time, especially the tiny ones, as they only need to be heated through thoroughly (if cooked for too long they become rubbery).

5.  Stir in the fresh and dried tomatoes (plus tomato purée if using) and simmer together with the prawns for one minute.

6.  Stir in the wine vinegar, olives and most of the basil and remove from the heat.  Season and scatter with a little more shredded basil before serving with salad and crusty bread or rice.


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Back in the 1970’s I watched Ken Hom cooking Sesame Prawn Toast on TV in his classic TV show Chinese Cookery and although he said they were simple to make, it still took me years to get round to having a go.  Whatever else I order in a Chinese restaurant I always feel I have somehow missed out if I don’t have at least one piece of Sesame Prawn Toast – I have also eaten them in a Thai restaurant where they tasted much the same.  In one really good local restaurant they are just one element of a mixed starter dish so I don’t even have to choose!  It is some time since I have cooked a multi dish Chinese meal so earlier this year I took my opportunity.  It was mum’s birthday.  I know that I can take a bit more risk with something I have not made before – my family and parents are very forgiving guinea pigs – so our starter was, of course, sesame prawn toast.  As I had thought it was a straightforwad recipe and it and the meal a resounding success.

The recipe is a fairly standard one, as far as I can see, and comes from the BBC book that accompanied the TV series: Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery.  The mixture and the finished uncooked toasts can be made in advance (always an advantage) chilled and then cooked just prior to serving.  Although the original recipe was deep fried I found that the toasts could also be shallow fried.  After draining on kitchen paper I popped them into the oven, which had been on to cook the duck breast for the Duck with Chinese Style Plum Sauce I was also serving.  This kept the toasts warm and crisped them even more.  A version of the recipe can also be found at This Morning Recipes but includes water chestnuts and pork, which are not in the original recipe.  It also specifies just the white of the egg which I have kept as I think it an improvement on my recipe.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Sesame Prawn Toast
(Makes about 30 pieces)
For the base
10 slices bread, very thinly sliced (a square loaf looks neater when cut up)
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds (or more as required)
450ml (15 fl oz) sunflower oil (original suggests groundnut/peanut
For the prawn paste mixture
450g/1lb uncooked prawns, peeled & finely chopped
1tsp salt
½tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 egg white
2tbsp finely chopped spring onions, white part only
2tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1tbsp of light soy sauce
1tsp of sesame oil

1.  Chop the prawns finely until they are a paste and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well until it is a smooth consistency that will be easy to spread. (If available, use a food processor.)

2.  Remove the crusts from the bread and cut each slice into about three ‘fingers’ – rectangles of around 7.5 x 2.5cm  (3 x 1 inch).  Alternatively cut into triangles: 2 large or 4 small.

3.  Spread the prawn paste over the pieces of bread.  Each should be about 3 mm (⅛inch) deep, although it can be spread more thinly if preferred.

4.  Sprinkle the toasts generously with sesame seeds and press well in.

5. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer, frying pan or a wok to medium heat.  Fry the toasts paste side downwards, several at the same time, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn them over and fry for a further 2 minutes or until golden brown.

6.  Remove with a slotted spoon, place on kitchen paper to drain and place in the oven or under a gentle grill to keep warm. (The toasts will have to be cooked in several batches.)

7.  It is recommended that the toasts are served at once.  However, they can be kept for a short while (say 5-10 minutes at most) and even finished in a warm oven, in which case it is helpful if they are slightly less browned in the fryer or wok.  Beware leaving them too long as they will harden and could quickly burn.

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This dish reminds me of one of my favourite Indian Restaurant starters, Prawns on Puri – where the spicy prawn mixture is served on puri (alternatively called poori or boori), a south Asian unleavened bread. I occasionally serve Indian food at Supper parties and this would be a good starter. Using a mild, ready mixed, Korma spice makes it not too hot. Living in outer London, I am fortunate to have access to a variety of ethnic foodstores and I mainly buy my Indian spices from one of the many Asian food shops. The Korma mix is Rajah brand, but others are available. Don’t leave out the sugar, which helps to counter the acidity of the tomatoes. Small peeled prawns, frozen or fresh, are fine for everyday meals, but it is good to use larger ones if entertaining.  The mushrooms and courgette, which could be replaced with slices of okra, are my own additions.  If you use okra do not cook it for too long.  It should still be crisp with the sticky juices just starting to run out – 5-8 minutes maximum.

The original version of this recipe, originally called Prawn & Tomato Curry came from a leaflet available from Sainsbury’s supermarkets in early 2009.


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Prawn and Tomato Korma
(Serves 4 as main course)
(Would feed 8+ as part of a starter leaving out mushroom & courgette)

5g butter
1tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
125g button mushrooms
1 x 2cm piece of root ginger, peeled & grated
1 tbsp Korma curry powder
1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
125ml vegetable stock
4 fresh tomatoes, quartered
¼ tsp sugar
Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
250g courgette, quartered lengthways in small slices
250g peeled prawns
To serve:
Basmati rice
Half fat crème fraîche or yoghurt if needed
10g fresh coriander, chopped

1.  Melt the butter and oil in a pan.  Fry the Korma mix for 1 minute. Add the ginger, mushroom and onion. Turn down heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

2.  Chop the tinned tomatoes well and add to the pan with the vegetable stock, fresh tomato and sugar.  Season to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Add the courgette and prawns and simmer for a further 5 minutes with the lid off the pan to reduce the liquid.

4. Serve on a bed of Basmati rice with crème fraîche or yoghurt, if wanted, plus a sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander.

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I have a large boxful of recipe cuttings collected over the years.  In recent years I have tried to make a note of the source and date, but this is one of those where the source is lost in the mists of time.  It came from the pages of an old magazine, but I have no idea which one … and it has been slightly adapted by me.

The information I do have is that the original writer of the recipe was Amanda Grant, a regular contributor to magazine food pages.  For a more healthy version use reduced fat crème fraîche and cream.  The fish I used was a mixture of salmon & pollack.  The original recipe calls for 12 fresh raw prawns which would be great for a special occasion, but I have found that this is just as good with small prawns.  We particularly enjoyed this when it was made with red pesto rather than the usual green.  The tomato base of the red pesto seemed to complement the flavours of the dish more than the basil of the green.

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Fish Pie with Pesto Topping
(Serves 4-6)

6 medium sized potatoes
2-3tbsp Pesto – red (sun dried tomato) or green (basil) flavoured
200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche*
284ml/8fl oz double creme* (half a tub of Elmlea)
25g/1oz butter (divide in two)
1tsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
40g/1½ Parmesan, grated – plus a little more to go on top if you wish
Lemon juice, to taste
100g/4ozs peeled prawns, defrosted and drained
550g/1½lb fish (See notes above) cut into pieces
2/3 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach

1.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.

2.  Chop the potatoes fairly small and place in a pan of water.  Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.  Drain and mash with the Pesto, half of the butter, 1tbsp crème fraîche and as much cream as it takes to make them fluffy and creamy without being sloppy.

3.  Melt the remaining butter with the olive oil and gently cook the fennel and onion until transparent.  Add the remaining cream and crème fraîche and warm gently stirring occasionally, removing from the heat just before it boils.  Stir in the Parmesan, reserving a little to sprinkle on the top if you wish.  Season and add lemon juice to taste.

4.  Add the prawns, fish and spinach and mix together.

5.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish.  Spoon over or pipe on the pesto mash (sprinkling with the remaining grated Parmesan if you wish).

6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through and golden.

7.  Serve with halved baked tomatoes plus salad or broccoli, green beans or peas.

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This comforting and reasonably quick to make fishy bowlful is best enjoyed on a cold evenings round the fire. I have been known to make it for a busy Christmas eve or Good Friday evening.   Since first making this recipe I have managed to find a good source of fish stock which is not easy to find in the UK.  When on holiday in France over the summer I bought a small tub of dried powder labelled Fumet des Poissons in Carrefour supermarket (own brand, blue tub) and I am definitely not disappointed with the added flavour it gives to this dish.  Own brands and more expensive branded versions are available in other French supermarkets – I shall be stocking up next time I go!

The original version of the recipe comes from the excellent Complete Low Fat Cookbook by Sue Kreitzman, though I have adapted it very slightly. The first time I tried it I had no parsley and as it needed some green I added peas, an addition we have kept as we liked it so much! I also left out the wine, as I was feeding young children who might not have liked the flavour and have continued to leave it out.  More recently I have added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and some chopped bacon, both of which augment the flavour of the fish.  It is suggested that the pepper is put under the grill and warmed through until skin starts to pucker before cutting up as this draws out the sweetness.  If you want to remove the skin, especially if it chars, then put it in a plastic bag for about 5 minutes which will make it easier to peel away.

100_4367 Smoky Fish Chowder

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Smoky Fish Chowder
(Serves 4-6)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2ozs/50g chopped bacon (smoked or unsmoked)
24fl ozs/750ml fish stock (or vegetable stock or water)
2 fl ozs/50ml white wine (optional) or 1tbsp white wine vinegar
1pt/600ml skimmed milk
3 medium all purpose potatoes (boil until almost cooked, peel & dice coarsely)
1 red pepper, chopped
12oz/350g can sweetcorn kernels
4ozs/100g frozen peas (pre-cooked for 5 minutes)
12ozs/350g firm white fish (skin & cut into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes)
12ozs/350g skinned smoked haddock/hoki (cut into 1″ (2.5cm) cubes)
6ozs/175g cooked peeled prawns
freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine the onion, 4fl ozs/100ml of the stock/water, plus wine or wine vinegar, if using, in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Cover, bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes.

2. Uncover and simmer briskly until the onion is tender and starting to brown. Stir in the bacon and gently fry with the onion.

3. Stir in the remaining liquid and bring to a simmer.

(I like to keep about half of the liquids back and add during cooking, if needed, as when I originally cooked this recipe the end result was rather over wet. Let your own taste preference dictate what proportions of milk and stock/water you add.)

4. Add the potatoes and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper and corn and simmer for 5 minutes more.

5. Cool slightly, then puree half the mixture in a blender. Return to the pan, rinsing the blender with small amounts of water and adding this to the pan as well and bring back to a simmer.

6. Stir in the peas and fish cubes and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Stir in the prawns and heat through.

8. Season with pepper and serve at once sprinkled with parsley.

9. Serve in a bowl and eat with a spoon, accompanied with a chunk of crusty granary or white bread.

(This recipe was first posted on 29 March 2008 at my original blog Meanderings along the narrow way)  Updated 16 June 2009 & 12 November 2010

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