I grew up in Lisbon, so I love seafood. The first time I saw a spot prawn was at Canoe, when I was a young cook doing a student internship. And when I say saw, that’s what I mean—in that position, you don’t get to taste them, you just look. Now that I know them better, there are a lot of things I like about them. For one thing, they’re almost exclusive to us. Another is that they are so seasonal [the commercial season usually starts in May and lasts just six weeks]. They taste great fried or poached or raw. They’re so sweet. I just love them. —J.M.
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 125 ml (½ cup) whole milk
- 40 g (¼ cup) blanched almonds
- 1 slice day-old white bread
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- Salt, pepper
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable (or other) frying oil
- 12 spot prawns (or other top-quality wild shrimp)
- 250 ml (1 cup) flour
- Sea salt (preferably Nova Scotian)
- 75 ml ( cup) top-quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably Spanish)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 thick slice of seedless watermelon, diced about 1 cm (½ inch)
- 6 basil leaves, torn
To prepare the ajo blanco, combine apple, milk, almonds, bread, oil, garlic and 150 ml ( cup) ice-cold water in a blender, and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside in the refrigerator.
Pre-heat oil in a deep saucepan to 175°C (350°F). Remove the heads from the prawns. Dredge heads in flour, shake off excess, and use tongs or a slotted spoon to lower them into the hot oil. Fry until bronzed and crisp—about 3 minutes—then transfer to paper towels to drain. Season with salt while hot.
Meanwhile, peel and devein the tails (discard shells—or reserve in freezer for stock). Dice tail meat and transfer to a bowl set inside a larger bowl of ice. Add 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the olive oil and the lemon juice, and combine. Add sea salt to taste. Divide tartare between four chilled plates. Spoon ajo blanco on top to cover. Garnish with watermelon, basil and crispy shrimp heads. Finish with a drizzle of fine olive oil.
Photography By Ryan Szulc
This beautifully rich wine has a lot of texture and a slight sweetness in the finish to perfectly enhance the flavor of the prawns!
For more info on these and other fine wines, go to Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits.