Ask the experts: buying, storing and cooking prawns
Fran Abdallaoui and Pamela Clark share their tips for buying, preparing and cooking prawns this Christmas.
Of all the ingredients, seafood is the most perishable, so plan your shopping well.
Pre-order everything and arrange to pick it up on Christmas Eve, or at the earliest, two days prior.
On the day of purchase, take a chiller bag, then aim to have your seafood under proper refrigeration as soon as possible.
Look for uncooked prawns that are free of discolouration; reject any that are showing signs of blackness.
Once home, place prawns on a plate or tray, or in a lidded container. Cover with a damp cloth, then plastic wrap or a lid. Place in coldest part of the fridge; usually the bottom shelf. Eat within two days.
For uncooked prawns, half-fill a container with prawns, then fill with water and put the container in the freezer, with a label and the date – the ice block will insulate the prawns. Prawns are best frozen in a container, rather than a plastic freezer bag as they are sharp. Only freeze prawns if you are sure they have not been frozen before and you can guarantee their freshness. Freeze for up to two months.
How much to buy?
How many prawns to serve is dependent on what else you are serving, the time of day and even the weather. Allow about 300g-400g of prawns per person for a main course, as you will lose at least half the weight in shells.
Perfect barbecue prawns
SERVES 4 You will need 1.2kg uncooked medium prawns or 1.5kg large king prawns.
1 If using medium prawns, shell and devein the prawns leaving the tails intact (see Preparing prawns, right). If using large prawns, butterfly by cutting through the body just after the head, stopping just before the tail; remove the vein.
2 Toss the peeled prawns with a little extra virgin olive oil, or brush butterflied prawns with oil; season. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue to high; cook the prawns, in batches, for 1 minute on each side or until cooked through. The flesh will change from translucent to opaque.
Cook the butterflied prawns in the same manner, flesh-side down first. Serve the prawns with lemon cheeks, your favourite sauce or try our Horseradish Cocktail Sauce (recipe below).
Horseradish cocktail sauce
Combine ⅓ cup tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon horseradish cream, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and ⅓ cup pouring cream in a small bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper.