Before I get started, I just have to say thank you to everyone.
It has been a tough few weeks since the loss of my darling Mr Woofy and I must admit that there are times that the grief became almost too much for me to bear. But so many of you have reached out to me through the blog, facebook, twitter and email to offer me support and love that I was truly touched. One of the most hurtful comments I’ve heard during this time was that “he was just a dog”, but there are so many of you who understand what the loss of a beloved furkid means and the stories that you shared helped me work through my grief.
So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
At this point, I have to also give a public thanks to my best friend and sister from another mister, Vee. You were on the phone with me trying to keep me calm on my frantic drive from work to the vet on the day that Mr Woofy passed away. You kept on trying again and again to reach out to me though I kept hiding. You cried with me when I was on the phone to you, and I know that your heart broke for my loss.
We’ve been friends for almost 14 years now and I have to say that I’m grateful every single day to have such an amazing person like you in my life. I love you, babe. xoxoxo.
For my first recipe of 2012, I thought I’d share something quick and ridiculously easy with you – a dish that I actually made for Christmas and which was relished by the family.
Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere may take for granted the fact that Christmas roasts are just part of the season. Unfortunately for those of us who reside in Australia, cooking a roast for Christmas lunch usually involves turning the house into a ridiculously stuffy sauna that leaves you so dehydrated that your tongue feels like a piece of beef jerky in the mouth.
Anyway, I digress.
While we (for some bizarre reason) keep this tradition alive, Christmas in Australia wouldn’t be the same without a seafood dish of some kind. For our family, that usually means something involves those glorious bastards that we call prawns. That’s right – prawns, not shrimp – despite what Paul Hogan said about his ‘barbie’ back in the 80′s.
Barbequed Chilli & Garlic Prawns with Couscous Salad
(Adapted from David Bitton’s cookbook)
Ingredients for the prawns:
20-25 large prawns, peeled and deveined (tails cleaned but left on!)
2 tbsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
2-4 birds eye chillis, finely diced (depending on your tolerance)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season
Ingredients for the couscous salad:
50g couscous (uncooked)
100mL boiling water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large tomato, deseeded and finely diced
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 medium mango (ripe), peeled and diced
1 small bunch of coriander leaves only, washed and drained
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
Fresh lemon wedges, to serve
1. Place all the ingredients for the prawns in a bowl and make sure to toss well. I like to also massage the ingredients into the prawns for a few seconds to allow everything to mix together really well and evenly.
2. Once this is done, you want to store them in the fridge for at least 2 hours (better if you can do it overnight) in a covered container or a ziplock bag.
3. When you’re ready to prepare the salad, place the dry couscous in a large bowl. Boil your water (pot or kettle is fine), add the salt and olive oil then pour it over the top of the couscous. Cover and let it stand for about 5 minutes or till all the water has been absorbed. Fluff the couscous with a fork and set aside somewhere warm (room temperature is better than in the fridge).
4. Also finely dice your onion, mango, tomato and coriander leaves. These can be prepared beforehand and just stored in the fridge till they’re needed. Note that you should not combine these with the couscous till just before serving as the couscous can absorb additional liquid from the tomato and mango and become gummy, which is definitely not the desired texture.
5. Once it comes time to serve the dish, cook the prawns (I prefer a barbeque but you can just use a hot frying pan) then set aside.
Use an egg or pastry ring to form the rounds (I’ve stacked two together as mine are quite short). Place on the plate and carefully fill with the couscous salad, making sure to tap it down enough so that the stack will hold it’s form but is not squished.
As you can see here, you want a decent amount of couscous if each person is getting 6-7 decent-sized prawns on top of it! My rounds were about 12cm in diameter and about 3-4cm high – though in all honesty, there was a fair bit of leftover couscous and we each ended up eating more of it!
6. Carefully arrange the prawns on top in a tidy pile whilst keeping the couscous as intact as you can…
I admit that I struggled with this part. But then again, I’m not exactly known for my delicate touch or coordination.
7. Sprinkle some chopped herbs on top (I just went with more coriander leaves and loved it) – and then you’re all done!
Serve these bad boys with some fresh lemon wedges and prepare to blow away your friends and family from the awesomeness of this dish. It is a fabulous recipe to keep handy as almost everything can be prepared beforehand and with just a few minutes of cooking and assembly before it’s presented, the appearance and flavour is just so wonderful!
It is a marvelous summer dish as the freshness of the onion and sweetness of the mango keep it very light, and comes together so magically with the pungent garlicy-spicy prawns that you’ll find yourself with a plate licked clean.
Oh, and just one last thing about this dish…
Feel free to marinate more of those prawns than you actually need for cooking, as if you’re anything like me and adore the tasty bastards then you’ll want some leftovers than you can greedily munch down on after you’re done sharing nicely and playing host.
“What’s this, more prawns left over? Well I’d just better finish them off then!”
Stay tuned to this channel as next week, I have a totally bitchin’ summer cocktail recipe and a giveaway of a sexy-as-sin bamix deluxe blender…