Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

All time favourite Prawns

Seafood has quickly displaced Turkey as Australia’s favourite Christmas fare and prawns seem to be first on the shopping list for every order. We are lucky to have so many varieties to choose from. Sweet inshore banana prawns & endeavour prawns. The blue leg and Ocean King prawns and 3 different types of Tiger Prawns, all caught in our local waterways. You will often see prawns “graded” along the lines of “10/20’s”, “15/25’s” or” U10’s” and this is an old fashion grading system which has stuck with prawns for over 50 years. I don’t quite know its origins but it relates to numbers of prawns per pound (450 grams). So 10/20’s will be a mixed “medium to large” size which will be between 10 and 20 prawns per pound. 25 and 50 per kg. And so on it goes, the higher the count number, the smaller the prawns while a U10 grade means these are big prawns running to less than 10 per pound.

The large local tiger prawns get right down to a U6 grade and these are serious prawns, running to often almost 100 grams each and it was a plate load of these that was my contribution to a Christmas Lunch with friends.

Rather than boring old boiled and served cold with cocktail sauce I went a little extravagant with my all-time favourite prawn recipe. This really does need big green prawns but it is a sensational way to treat a wonderful local delicacy.

Take of the head, but leave the chest plate/legs and rinse out the intestines. Split the prawn down the back and remove the tube and cut with your knife, almost, but not quite, through and then flatten the prawn down with the palm of you hand, leaving the shell on one side and open prawn flesh on the other.. (The pictures will help demonstrate what I mean).

Pop in a bowl while you blitz up some olive oil, garlic, chilli and parsley, pour this mix over the prawns and massage well into the flesh side and then leave covered in the fridge for an hour or 2.

Throw them flesh side down on a smoking hot BBQ, turn after 1 minute and liberally grind over some black pepper and sea salt. If you have a BBQ with a lid, now just drop the lid, turn off the BBQ and come back after 2 minutes. DONE.  Squeeze over a lemon and peel off the shell to eat but actually try eating the crispy legs and chest plate.

This really is the best prawn recipe I have ever used and is a new staple on our Christmas Table, but something you can do any time the jumbo Prawns turn up in your local fish shop. Always ask for U6 or U8 for this recipe and if every the U3 Leader Prawns(Black Tigers) are running then this takes the dish to a whole new level.