Shrimp on the Barbie
I’m not usually one for sharing a recipe that I’ve blatantly ripped from the pages of someone elses cookbook. But there has to be an exception here, because I simply can’t beat this recipe or technique and I want to share it with you! Of course you could go out and buy Gjelina’s cookbook. My kids know I’m an avid cookbook collector, so they gave it to me for Christmas. And I wholeheartedly endorse it. Or you could do yourself a favor by dining at the amazing Gjelina in Venice, California where you’d find this dish and so many more incredible delights. But, if you’re reading this, you will soon have the power to do this in the comforts of your own home. You’ll be $35 richer (the cost of the book not the shrimp) and a little wiser on how this Aussie chooses to throw shrimp on the barbie.
Gjelina has a wonderful wood fired oven that infuses a delectable smokey flavor into every dish they deliver – whether it’s their incredible blistered pizza’s, or grilled kale, or these lovely prawns. But not having a wood fired oven doesn’t mean you can’t create this prawn dish. Even if you don’t have a barbecue you can easily do these in the oven.
The secret is a hot cast-iron fry pan.
Here’s what you’ll need:
12 fresh prawns, with shell on
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 cloves Garlic (I use Gjelina’s Garlic Confit, also made from their cookbook… but you can get by with freshly crushed garlic cloves)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lemon, quartered
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Fire up your grill (barbecue) or heat oven to a high, high heat. Say 500F (26oC).
Place a dry cast iron pan in the oven, or on the barbie and heat for as long as you can. Gjelina suggests 1 hour. I used my outdoor grill so I only heated for about 1/2 hour. And it still worked well.
Have your fish monger devein the prawns, or do it yourself by cutting down the backs and rinsing well under cold water. Leave the heads on. My monger had conveniently deveined and de-headed. But the most important thing is to leave the shells on.
When cleaned and prepared, add prawns in their shells into a bowl with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, parsley and crushed red pepper flakes. Toss and leave to marinate until grill is ready. Just before adding to the hot pan, squeeze lemon juice all over the prawns. When the pan is extremely hot, add marinated prawns and lemons. Lay flat so they’re not overlapping. Close the lid on barbecue or oven door and leave to cook through for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Check the prawns after a few minutes and turn them over if they haven’t completely cooked and charred a little. Transfer cooked prawns with the roasted lemons on to a serving platter. Serve immediately with bowls for the shells and damp hand towels. They’re messy. But totally worth it!