The sun is beating down on beautiful Cumbria today-I have no desire to be next to my aga today so this will be a quick, possibly romantic, meal for two. I knew there must be some advantages to having an empty nest. You can have this on the table in a trice with a few freezer/store cupboard items. I used good quality frozen raw large prawns-not just because I didn’t want to venture forth-it would be lovely to have ‘local catch’ prawns available for when the urge takes me but it is not always possible, and, depending where you live, almost impossible. Most of the ‘ordinary’ prawns you see on the fish counter-cooked and therefore pink in colour, have been frozen previously and defrosted for sale. They freeze well, often immediately on the fishing vessel before they have even touched shore, but they don’t travel well so it is often best to buy them frozen raw (grey in colour) which gives you control over the whole fishy process.
When buying any sort of prawn get them in the shell and peel them yourself the flavour is much better and you can use the shells to make a quick fish stock if you are feeling virtuous….Defrost your prawns on some kitchen paper to make sure that they don’t sit in water and this helps to keep the flavour. If you are lucky and geographically in the optimum place and are able to buy fresh they should smell ‘fresh’ and not ‘fishy’ and have bright shells with no darkening or black spots.
One more thing….what is a prawn or a shrimp………the classification and names of prawns can be confusing and open to interpretation: Generally speaking we buy PRAWNS in the UK, small, medium or large. They can also be called TIGER PRAWNS or KING PRAWNS for the larger ones or just NORTH ATLANTIC PRAWNS. Most prawns are called SHRIMP in the USA. Here in the north west we have very small brown prawns which WE call shrimps-these delicious little mouthfuls are fished along the Solway coast. They are lovingly hand peeled and when potted up with butter and a little mace are a true Cumbrian delicacy. The mediterranean prawns are sometimes called CREVETTES. DUBLIN BAY PRAWNS (also known as LANGOUSTINES) are much larger and look like little lobsters with heads eyes and claws…………………………………..CONFUSED? so am I.
TIGER PRAWN AND LEMON LINGUINE
200g egg linguine or plain Durum wheat pasta
Generous knob of butter
200g Frozen, raw Tiger or King Prawns, defrosted
1 garlic clove finely chopped
100ml dry, white wine
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1. Drop the pasta into large pan of boiling, salted ( the Italian say it should be as salty as they sea-they should know..) water and cook according to the pack instructions-usually about 10 minutes for the finer, egg linguine or 15-20 minutes for the ordinary durum wheat pasta. Peel the prawns if necessary.
2. Meanwhile, heat half the butter in a frying pan. When it starts to bubble add the prawns and fry for one minute until they start to change colour. Raw prawns are grey in colour and they go pink on cooking.
3. Add the garlic and sizzle for one minute (be careful not to burn it) and then add the wine.
4. Add the rest of the butter, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and the lemon juice and then stir in the parsley. Take off the heat immediately.
5. When the pasta is cooked, drain and then pour back into the pan. Add the prawn mixture and gently turn the pasta in the sauce. Serve in warmed bowls straight away. Serve with some spicy salad leaves with a light dressing and sprinkled with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese