Lying on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is a haven for seafood. You get a prawn there called carabinero, which is red in colour because of the pink plankton it eats. The carabinero is cooked simply with olive oil, garlic and fresh piri piri chilli, and finished off with cilantro. It is served almost like a sizzler, with a big wedge of lemon and bread on the side. When we replicated the idea, we added another layer of depth by cooking the prawn head in a wood-fired oven.
- 500 gm, medium-sized prawns (30-35 count per kg)
- 4 tbsp sliced garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp red chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
- Salt to taste
- Lime juice to taste
- De-shell and devein the prawns or ask your fishmonger to do it for you. Once clean, store them in the refrigerator.
- Marinate the prawns with salt and 1 tbsp of chilli flakes. Store at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat a large sauté pan on low heat. Add in 1 tbsp of olive oil and sliced garlic. Sauté till garlic is cooked soft but not browned. Turn the flame off and let it infuse.
- To cook the prawns, use a large sauté pan wide enough to fit all the prawns in one single layer. If you do not have one that large, cook the prawns in batches in a smaller sauté pan.
- Heat the pan on high flame until hot. Toss in remaining olive oil and follow with the marinated prawns, making sure the prawns are in a single layer.
- Resist the urge to toss instantly. Give the prawns up to 1.5 to 2 minutes on each side and cook them, turning only once.
- Turn the flame off and add in the cooked garlic with the oil.
- Squeeze in lime juice, sprinkle chopped cilantro and toss.