Prawn cro­que­tas

The Observer Food Monthly - - END OF YEAR SPECIAL NYE FEAST -

This re­ally is the per­fect bite – full of flavour, crisp on the out­side and soft and zingy on the in­side.

You will need 500g of whole prawns for this, as 50% of the prawn weight is the shell and the head. Re­serve the shells for the bisque. Makes 24 cro­quettes For the bisque olive oil 25ml prawn shells and heads re­served from the bechamel (see right) car­rot ½, peeled and chopped shal­lot 1, peeled and chopped cel­ery 1 stick, chopped leek 1, trimmed, cleaned and chopped bay leaf 1 gar­lic 2 cloves, crushed tomato puree 2 tbsp brandy 50ml man­zanilla sherry 50ml wa­ter 700ml For the bechamel whole milk 700ml bisque 300ml (see left) olive oil 25ml king prawns 250g, shelled meat, chopped (you will need 500g of whole prawns) un­salted but­ter 120g

plain white flour 220g salt and pep­per to taste chives 3 tbsp, chopped For the crust eggs 4, whisked panko bread­crumbs 200g rape­seed oil 500ml

Direc­tions

Be­gin with the bisque. Add the oil to a large saucepan and caramelise the prawn shells for a cou­ple of min­utes on a medium-low heat. Add the chopped veg­eta­bles, the bay leaf and the crushed gar­lic and caramelise for a fur­ther 4-5 min­utes. Add the tomato puree and cook for 2 more min­utes.

Add the brandy and sherry and keep cook­ing un­til the al­co­hol evap­o­rates (this will take 2-3 min­utes depend­ing on the pan), then add the wa­ter and sim­mer for 20 min­utes. Strain the stock with a sieve and keep the stock. You will only need 300ml for this recipe but you can freeze the rest.

Next make the bechamel. In a 30cm-di­am­e­ter saucepan, add the milk and 300ml of the bisque and bring to a sim­mer. In a sep­a­rate pan, heat the oil, toss the prawns in quickly for 30 sec­onds, then re­move the meat and set aside. In the same pan that you cooked the prawn meat in, melt the but­ter, then add the flour and cook to­gether for 5-6 min­utes on a medium-low heat. At that point, add the bisque and milk mix­ture lit­tle by lit­tle while stir­ring con­tin­u­ously. Once the sauce has come to­gether and ev­ery­thing is well mixed, keep cook­ing it for at least 20-25 min­utes on a low heat un­til it be­comes a silky and creamy sauce. After 20-25 min­utes, add the salt and pep­per to taste, the chives and the prawns and com­bine un­til ev­ery­thing is mixed to­gether. Let it cool, then place it in a con­tainer and put it in the fridge for at least three hours un­til it sets.

When set, make quenelles with the bechamel to give the cro­que­tas their shape us­ing two ta­ble­spoons (see be­low). You can also use a pip­ing bag to make a 50p-coin­sized ball, in­stead of mak­ing the quenelles.

Dip the cro­que­tas in the whisked egg and then in the panko bread­crumbs. Put them back on a tray and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour. In a medi­um­size saucepan add three fingers high of rape­seed oil. To test the oil, throw a lit­tle bit of panko bread into the pan. If the oil starts bub­bling then it is hot enough.

Fry the cro­que­tas on a medium heat un­til golden brown (if the heat is too low the cro­que­tas will fall apart and if it is too hot you will burn them). Place the cro­que­tas on kitchen pa­per to ab­sorb the re­main­ing oil. Serve hot.

How to shape quenelles

A quenelle is a dec­o­ra­tive oval shape formed by us­ing two spoons, usu­ally made us­ing soft in­gre­di­ents.

The size of spoon will de­ter­mine how big the quenelles are, but al­ways use two spoons of the same size.

Hold a spoon in each hand. Scoop a gen­er­ous amount of mix­ture into one spoon. Gen­tly curve the sec­ond spoon to­wards you, press­ing its bowl against the mix­ture and scoop­ing it into the sec­ond spoon as you go.

Trans­fer the mix­ture back to first spoon in same man­ner. You will start to see that it de­vel­ops a smooth sur­face from where the spoon has scooped it. Keep scoop­ing back and forth un­til a smooth oval shape is achieved.

PROP STYLING PENE PARKER; FOOD STYLING OLIVIA BEN­NETT

Above: prawn cro­que­tas Left: pi­par­ras

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