Spot Prawns with Tomato, Feta and Ouzo with Skordalia
Here in the interior we herald in Spring with tender local asparagus, freshly shelled peas, and crimson stalks of rhubarb but on the coastal waters of British Columbia nothing says Spring more than fresh live Spot Prawns. From May 1 until July 1, we have the opportunity to devour some of the freshest and best-tasting prawns in the world here in British Columbia. Huge, luscious BC spot prawns are one of the most tantalizing things to be found in the waters around Vancouver. Sweet, firm, peachy-pink and tender, the prawns are sustainably harvested by local fishermen. This means we are able to enjoy eating them well into summer and still feel good about it. With the window of opportunity to enjoy this delicacy being relatively short , rest assured we have rolled up our sleeves and have feasted on local Spot Prawns often.
These sweet, and luscious spot prawns are just one of many reasons to be proud and excited about our region’s bounty. Wild British Columbia Spot Prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown colour, which turns bright pink when cooked, defining white spots on their tail and white horizontal bars on the carapace. Spot prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp found on the west coast of Canada.
While exquisite in the dish below, they’re so flavourful that I also encourage you to try them prepared simply. Grill them on skewers, boil them briefly with a bit of salt, or pan-fry in olive oil. This time around I was whisked away to Greece with a simplified version of a shrimp saganaki served up with some tasty skordalia.
Skordalia translates as a 'thick sauce' or 'dip' and is made in Greek cuisine by combining crushed garlic with a bulky base. Here we are using potatoes but as with any recipe there are as many versions as there are cooks. Using a food processor would make the potatoes gummy so use a little elbow grease and add the potatoes in small increments to a mortar and pestle to create a smooth, consistent texture perfect for serving with fish and seafood. I used half the garlic recommended, does that make me a wuss?
The vampire-repelling garlic flavour is surprisingly balanced by the sweetness of the prawns and their show-stopping voluptuous tomato sauce. Spot Prawns are a regular around here so try Sauteed Spot Prawns with Garlic, Jalapeño and Spicy Mayonnaise, Grilled Spot Prawns with Lemon, Fennel and Baby Arugula Salad, or Zucchini Risotto with Saffron and Prawns. The aromas coming from the kitchen teased and tantalized and we were not disappointed!
**Spot Prawns with Tomato, Feta, and Ouzo**
2 tablespoons (30mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, chopped (about 1½ cups or 375mL)
½ teaspoon (2mL) sea salt
½ teaspoon(2mL) sugar
1 lb (450g) spot prawns, cleaned and shelled (tails on)
1½ tablespoons (22mL) ouzo
generous 2 tablespoons (30 to 40mL) crumbled feta
1 lemon, quartered
Pour oil into skillet, add garlic, and turn heat to medium-low. Within a minute or two a garlicky aroma should start to whisper “I’m ready.” Add the tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Bring briefly to boil, simmer for five minutes or so to let tomatoes soften, then add the prawns. Cook only until they turn pink and start to curl, then add the ouzo and feta. Heat through and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course
3 medium potatoes
8-12 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/3 cup olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Boil them until tender but not mushy. Drain them and let them dry a bit. In a pestle and mortar mash the garlic with a pinch of sea salt. Add a couple of pieces of potato and a pinch of salt. Add a little olive oil and continue mashing. Add a little drop of red wine vinegar. Repeat. Alternate in this manner until all of the potato has been used. Taste as you go, adding salt and more of any of the liquid ingredients to your desired flavour.
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