Prawn stars: My love of langoustines

One of my very favourite ingredients has to be the prawn. And that's not just any old frozen, imported prawn I'm talking about; rather, the king of prawns that we have right here all around the Irish coast - the Dublin Bay prawn. Also known as langoustine or the Norway lobster, the prawn is right at home here in the fresh, cold waters of the Atlantic and the Irish Sea. And it's the biting-cold sea that we have to thank for the sweet, delicious flavour that is like no other in the world. Seafood supremo Rick Stein claims Dublin Bay prawns to be the best in the world, and I, for one, wholeheartedly agree.
 
It's definitely true to say that fabulous, fresh Dublin Bay prawns do come with a slightly hefty price tag, which is why I suggest saving all the heads and shells and making a prawn bisque (a rich prawn soup) to make a second recipe out of what would otherwise be discarded. There is not just a huge amount of flavour in the shells, and especially the heads, but when they are crushed and sieved, they give the soup a lovely texture that is unique to bisque. I love to serve it with croutons, or just fingers of buttered toast.
 
The risotto recipe opposite was inspired by something that Isaac and I ate many years ago in a restaurant called Kampa Park in Prague. When we got home, we tried to make something similar, and it's now a recipe that I adore, and come back to time and time again.
 
The recipe for pan-fried prawns with garlic, chilli and coriander, also opposite, is super-quick to prepare and divine for a starter; I've had many versions of something similar in both Mexico and Guatemala. However, there are times when I just feel like nothing but simply cooked prawns. Boiled for just two minutes in salted water (one tablespoon of salt to every two pints of water), drained and eaten with home-made mayonnaise: now that's a serious treat.
 

Prawn Recipes: 

 

Rachel recommends

To make a really great home-made mayonnaise, just put two egg yolks in a bowl with one dessertspoon of white-wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt. Mix with a whisk, then, very slowly, in a thin drizzle, pour on eight fluid ounces of oil (a combination of six fluid ounces of sunflower oil and two fluid ounces of extra-virgin olive oil), making sure to whisk all the time. The mixture will gradually thicken as it emulsifies, giving you a creamy, delicious sauce to serve with your freshly boiled prawns.
 
Feel free to add other ingredients to ring the changes, such as chopped herbs and greens like basil, watercress, coriander, tarragon or rocket, or olives, tomatoes and anchovies.
 

Rachel's tip

When a prawn is good it is sweet, succulent and just sings of the sea. The fresher the prawn, the better it is, so make sure to check out what your local fishmonger has in stock and order ahead,  if necessary.
 

Shaneod Jun 15, 2015 News