Recipe: Garlic & Saffron Olive Oil Poached Prawns with Warm Zucchini
This recipe is inspired by the classic Spanish garlic prawns – you know the ones served sizzling in a clay dish, straight from the oven. The problem with that is when such high heat is applied to olive oil it ruins its fragile structure and delicate flavour. Poaching the prawns, or any other seafood for that matter, in hot but not smoking olive oil not only preserves the nutrients in the oil but also keeps the prawns incredibly soft. I wanted to get a subtle garlic flavour so I infused the olive oil with lots of fresh garlic and some saffron for that authentic Spanish feel. You can serve these poached prawns on top of any salad or vegetables but it goes really well with sweet and acidic combo of lemony zucchini and caramelised Balsamic tomatoes.
- 12 fresh king prawns
- 400ml mild extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in halves
- A few threads of saffron
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 1/2 long red chilli
- 1 lemon, zest & juice
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 vines of cherry tomatoes (you can also use punnet cherry tomatoes)
- 1-2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt & black pepper
- Shaved aged parmesan (optional)
- Baking tray, medium saucepan for prawns, a frying pan and a salad bowl.
- Pour 400m of olive oil into a medium saucepan. Choose something that will allow you to fit all of the prawns in yet cover them completely with oil. Use more oil if you need. On medium heat, bring oil to about 75C, so not simmering but too hot to touch with a bare finger. Take off the heat, add garlic, saffron and a pinch of salt. Stand aside to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 160C. Place cherry tomatoes, still on the vine, on a roasting tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 30 minutes. Remove tray from the oven and drizzle tomatoes with Balsamic vinegar. Put the tray back in and roast for a further 10 minutes at 180C.
- You can prepare everything else while olive oil is infusing and cherry tomatoes are roasting. Peel prawns, leaving the tail in tact, and remove the dark vein from the back by making a shallow cut with a knife. Rinse the prawns and set aside. Wash zucchinis and peel into thin ribbons with a carrot peeler. Chop parsley, chilli and grate the lemon zest.
- To finish up the process, place the olive oil saucepan on the heat and bring back to 75-80C, make sure it’s not simmering or boiling. You can use a digital heat thermometer to measure. Keep the saucepan off the heat, place the prawns in the oil and poach for 10 minutes (basically just let them sit in hot oil), turning over half way through. I also suggest to place the saucepan back on the heat for 10 -15 seconds half way through, just to bring the temperature back to 75C. The prawns will turn pinkish white and become a little firmer, although the poaching method keeps them super soft.
- While prawns are poaching, heat a tablespoon of the infused olive oil in a frying pan. Throw in chilli, lemon zest and zucchini ribbons. Toss around for about a minute, literraly to warm it up. Remove to a salad bowl, add fresh parsley, a pinch of black pepper, salt and a little more extra virgin olive oil. Toss a few roasted cherry tomatoes through the salad and reserve a few on the vine to serve on top. If you eat dairy, toss through a handful of grated Parmesan cheese or goats cheese.
- Remove and gently strain the prawns and serve on top of zucchini salad with roasted tomatoes and soft poached garlic on top.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hours
Number of servings: 2