King prawns with Pernod, tarragon and feta

Print Recipe

600g king prawns, shell removed and de-veined, heads and tails left on 
1 tbsp thyme leaves 
1 large garlic clove, crushed 
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon 
115ml olive oil
120g feta, broken into 1 1/2 cm chunks 
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes 
1 tsp dried oregano 
4 baby fennel (or 1 large fennel, if unavailable), trimmed and cut lengthways into 1/2cm slices (300g) 
180ml Pernod
150ml vegetable stock 
70g unsalted butter 
20g tarragon, roughly chopped 
1/2 tsp sumac, to serve 
coarse sea salt

The combination of prawns and feta is a classic Greek combination – Prawns saganaki – which we’ve been playing with since the first Ottolenghi book. It’s a lovely dish to do, as everything can be prepared in advance and just cooked before serving. If we were to enter any NOPI recipe for a 15-minute-supper competition, this would be it. Get prawns as fresh as you can: it means you can leave the heads on and their bright red bodies look just wonderful when they are cooked. It’s almost a must to serve this with some crusty white bread, to mop up the juices.

Method

Place the prawns in a bowl with the thyme, garlic, lemon zest and 70ml oil. Mix to coat, cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour or, preferably, overnight.


Place feta in a bowl with 1 tbs oil. Sprinkle over chilli flakes and oregano. Stir gently, cover and keep in fridge until ready to use.
 


Heat the remaining 2 tbs oil in a large frypan on high heat. Add the prawns and sear for 1-2 minutes, turning once or twice, until they are no longer translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Add fennel to the pan and fry 6-7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it starts to soften and gain colour. Add the Pernod and cook for 1 minute, to reduce by half, then pour in the stock.
 


Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds and you have about 120ml of liquid left in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, tarragon and 1/3 tsp salt. Stir to melt the butter, add the prawns, then stir for 2 minutes, until you get a smooth and glossy sauce and the prawns are just cooked through.
 


Divide prawns and fennel between four plates, bowls or warmed copper pans, and top with the chunks of marinated feta. Serve at once, with a sprinkle of sumac.

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