I love shellfish. I was brought up in Norfolk in a house about 500yards down a steepish cliff path to the beach. Some of my earliest memories are of standing with my father and watching him hook crabs from under the many seaweed covered rocks that formed the glistening chain of rock pools along the cliff base.
He was scrupulous at measuring the crabs for legal size against a mark on the handle of his homemade crab hook and whilst my mother preferred the hen crabs I loved the larger claws on the cocks.
We would dig for cockles too and use our wooden shrimping nets to sweep the shore line at the tide’s turn for shrimps to boil in seawater and then painstakingly peel to make in the most wonderfully tasty warm shrimp sandwiches.
Those tiny pink and brown shrimps are a pest to peel, so I use the same rule my mother did all those years ago: you eat all you peel!
New Year's Eve is not a time for rules but for fun so I suggest you buy the biggest and best prawns you can find. Do check the provenance of your prawns and make sure they come from a good clean supply. You can talk to your fishmonger, those in supermarkets especially Waitrose are most helpful if you don’t have a local fishmonger or buy frozen raw prawns from a reputable source.
Raw prawns are usually but not always grey turning pink when cooked. As I like to cook my prawns shell on I don’t worry about deveining, but if you wish to there are many videos of “how to” on You Tube.
This easy dish is perfect for a casual supper served with lots of fresh bread and chilled fizzy wine.
Garlic chilli prawns
Allow about 300gms unpeeled raw prawns per person But how many is up to you and your budget!
Good olive oil I always use extra virgin
A slug of white wine
1 head of plump garlic cloves peeled and chopped
Either 2-3 red chillies chopped or a couple of good pinches dried chilli flakes
A big nob of butter
A handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
This dish takes about 5 minutes star to finish so get everything else ready heat the bread and pour the wine.
Heat a large pan over a moderate flame for about 5 minutes. Now pour in the oil and add the prawns almost at once, pour in the wine and cook over a highish heat turning often until they change colour and become pink. Most of the liquid will have evaporated
Now add the garlic, chill and butter and cook stirring often for 2-3 minutes.
Toss in the parsley and scrape the contents of the pan into a warmed serving dish.
Serve at once with plenty of paper napkins.