Newlyn lands the best quality and variety of fish and shellfish in the British Isles and one of the principal fish merchants in the area, and indeed the only permanent fishmonger in Penzance, is Stevenson of Newlyn. Quite often there will be a deal on prawns. These prawns are nothing like the Young’s variety you get boiled and frozen from supermarket freezers, and still a million miles away from the pseudo fresh prawns you are duped into buying from supermarket fish counters or fresh packed.
Cornish prawns, landed and bought within a few miles and a few hours still have blood in their veins. Last weekend I bought 10 juicy ones for a fiver and made a classic prawn pasta dish with what else I had available at home.
Serves 2 for a good lunch or light supper.
10 good sized fresh Newlyn prawns, shelled and deveined (do not rinse).
25g or so of Rodda’s salted butter.
1 heaped tbs red onion or shallots, finely chopped.
1 large clove purple garlic, finely chopped.
Dash of white wine.
Cornish sea salt and crack of black pepper.
1 heaped tbs Rodda’s crème fraiche.
1 tbs curly parsley, finely chopped.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to season.
Pasta penne. I used pasta made with a bit of quinoa for a nuttier flavour. Available at our local independent grocer Thorne’s for a 50p deal!
Keep a kettle boiled ready to cook the pasta for the five or so minutes it takes to cook the prawns. Very simple. Warm a large frying pan on a medium high heat, add the oil, then the butter, let it melt. You should put the pasta on now.
As the oil and butter start sizzling, add the onion and garlic. If you find it is cooking very quickly turn the heat to medium. As it becomes translucent, add the prawns, now start timing as you don’t want to overcook the prawns. As they turn pink, which should take less than a minute, turn them over and keep coating and basting the prawns with the melted butter mixture. Add your splash of wine and turn up the temperature a bit to evaporate the alcohol so you are just left with that heady aroma of garlic, butter, wine and sea. Once the prawns are nearly cooked but still tender, take off the heat.
The heat from the pan will keep cooking the prawns so it is important to use your instincts and get this right. Remember they are shelled so will cook much quicker than cooking prawns in the shell.
Add the dollop of crème fraiche and season well, add the lemon juice and incorporate well. Add the parsley, reserving a bit for a garnish.
Drain the pasta and place back in its pan, add the prawns and the sauce and coat the pasta well taking care not to break any prawns.