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April 2001 Issue
Prawns with Lemon Butter Sauce
by Philip R. Gantt
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Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

Here is a very nice recipe that was inspired by a meal that I had in a restaurant not long ago. I liked the dish served in the restaurant -- especially the sauce -- and thought that I should try making something similar and add it to my reportoire.

I had never made a lemon butter sauce before, so I did a little research on the Internet and found several recipes, all quite different, yet a few had some similarities. Most of the recipes included white wine, shallots and butter. Some added soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cream and other ingredients. Without following any of the recipes, I decided to create my own. I think that my version came out better than the version of this dish I had at the restaurant. I have some ideas to make it different next time, and I'll share them below. You may want to try one or two of my ideas. If any readers out there try this recipe with some variation, please post a message to the Seasoned Cooking message boardto let us know how it turned out.

The sauce makes the difference in this dish and compliments the flavor of the prawns. It has been said that a sauce will make a meal, and I tend to agree. If a cook spends the time to learn a few basic sauces, that cook will be able to make every meal unique and never tiresome. You could cook fish, shellfish, fowl or meat in an endless variety of ways by simply changing the sauce.

Don't be afraid to experiment with sauces by adding a small amount of a subtle herb or spice. This may convert a bland sauce into an exquisite and unique accompaniment to a dish.

One variation for the sauce below is to add cajun spices to heat it up, if you like that sort of thing. Parsley also goes well with fish, so it might be an interesting variation to put some fresh finely chopped or pureed parsely into the sauce before serving. Or, perhaps some pesto sauce. The possibilities are endless. As a basic rule, when experimenting with herbs and spices, only add a small amount the first time. The sauce should leave you feeling that you want more of a certain flavor. This is one "secret" of the most successful chefs. They always leave you wanting more of what they serve.

Most seafood goes well with lemon. Prawns are no different. Lemon also aids digestion when eating meats and fish. For a stronger lemon flavor, I suggest scraping some of the yellow part of the skin from the lemon peel (1/4 tsp. zest) and add this to the sauce while thickening. I intend to try this the next time I make this sauce.

The recipe presented this month has been added to my yet to be published cookbook, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests.

Now, on to the recipe!

 

Prawns with Lemon Butter Sauce

I prefer tiger prawns for most recipes, however any medium to large sized prawns will do, even the freshwater varieties. I suppose you could even use crayfish tails in this recipe, if they are available to you. Broiled or steamed lobster would also be very good served with the sauce below.
  • 2 dozen large tiger prawns
  • 1 medium sized shallot, finely diced
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp. parsley for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of lemon (optional)
Shell the prawns, leaving the tail in tact if possible. Lay the shelled prawns on a flat surface and skewer using 2 bamboo or metal skewers for each row. See the illustration to the left. Skewering with double skewers makes it much easier to handle the shrimp while grilling.
To begin the sauce, bring the wine to boil over medium heat in a small pot or saucepan. While the wine is heating, finely dice one shallot and add this to the wine. When the wine begins to boil, add pats of butter and stir or whisk frequently. Heat until the volume is reduced to about half, about 20 minutes. Next, add the juice from the lemon. Finally, add the cream while whisking or stirring. Heat until the mixture starts to boil and then reduce heat to minimum. Stir frequently until used. This sauce should be served hot or very warm.
Let's not forget about the shrimp! You can either broil these or grill them on the BBQ. I prefer them grilled on the BBQ. If you broil them, simply place them in a greased pan and put into a preheated broiler oven for about 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning once. When grilling, place the skewered prawns over hot coals and watch carefully. About 4 minutes per side, perhaps less, will cook them throughly. Be sure not to over cook prawns or they will get rather tough and rubbery.
Now, arrange the grilled prawns in serving dishes and garnish. Parsley sprigs, lemon wedges, or a sprinkling of a bright colored spice would add a nice touch.

Serve this dish as a main course with yellow rice and green salad, or as an appetizer before a steak dinner.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes
 



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