Today, we’re going to take you on a thrilling culinary adventure with a recipe that’s close to our hearts here at Aura California – Peri Peri Prawns. This delightful dish pairs the succulent sweetness of prawns with the heat and depth of peri peri sauce. A popular blend in Portuguese and African cuisine, the peri peri (or piri piri) sauce is a tangy, spicy mixture made primarily with African bird's eye chili. Don’t worry if your spice tolerance is low, as this recipe is easily adjustable to match your heat preference.
Peri Peri Sauce Ingredients:
- 10-12 dried bird's eye chilies (adjust according to desired heat level)
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- Salt to taste
- 1 pound of prawns, butterfly or split from the back and devein)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh coriander leaves, chopped (for garnish)
- Lemon wedges (for serving)
Step 1: Making the Peri Peri Sauce**
1. Soak the dried bird's eye chilies in warm water for 15-20 minutes, until they rehydrate and soften.
2. After soaking, drain the chilies and put them in a blender or food processor.
3. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, onion, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt.
4. Blend until it turns into a smooth, slightly thick sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or lemon juice if needed. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little more olive oil or water to get the desired consistency.
Butterfly and Devein, the Prawn with the Shell On:
1. Butterflying: Using your Aura California knife make a lengthwise cut along the back of the prawn. Start from the head end, just below the head, and cut all the way to the tail, stopping before the tail fin. Make sure you don't cut too deep to avoid splitting the prawn in half.
2. Deveining: With the prawn still intact and the shell on, you can locate the dark vein running along the back. Gently pull or scrape the vein away from the prawn and discard it. Alternatively, you can make a shallow cut along the vein and rinse it out under cold running water.
3. Rinse and clean: Once you have deveined the prawn, rinse it under cold running water to remove any remaining debris or dirt.
4. Pat dry: Use a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to gently pat the prawn dry before cooking.
Marinating the Prawns
1. Take the cleaned prawns in a bowl and season them with salt.
2. Pour half of the peri peri sauce over the prawns and mix well, ensuring that each prawn is nicely coated with the sauce.
3. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, to let the flavors infuse.
Step 3: Cooking the Prawns
On an Open Flame
1. Skewer the prawns: If you prefer, you can skewer the prawns to make them easier to handle on the grill. Slide the prawns onto metal or soaked wooden skewers, leaving a little space between each prawn.
2. Oil the grill grates: Before placing the prawns on the grill, lightly oil the grill grates to prevent sticking. Use a pair of tongs and a folded paper towel soaked in oil to brush the grates.
3. Cook the prawns: Place the prawns directly on the grill grates or on the skewers if you used them. Cook the prawns for about 1-3 minutes per side, or until they turn pink and opaque. Avoid overcooking them, as they can become rubbery.
4. Pour over any remaining peri peri sauce (if you like it extra spicy) and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
5. Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.
Using a Pan
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
2. Once hot, add the marinated prawns to the pan. Make sure not to crowd the pan; if necessary, cook the prawns in batches.
3. Sauté the prawns for about 1-3 minutes on each side, or until they turn pink and are just cooked through. Overcooking prawns can make them tough and chewy, so be vigilant about the cooking time.
4. Once cooked, remove the prawns from the pan and place them on a serving dish.
5. Pour over any remaining peri peri sauce (if you like it extra spicy) and garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
6. Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.
And there you have it – a fiery and flavorful bowl of Peri Peri Prawns ready to steal the show at your next gathering.