Irish whiskey may sound unlikely, but trust me. Ideally you should buy live prawns and cook them yourself, but I’ve been known to use supermarket tiger prawns and I’m still here. I’ve also used Scotch whisky instead of Irish whiskey and lived to tell the tale, although Northern Irish chef Paul Rankin, who gave me the idea, swears by his local – Bushmills - which he says is lighter than many a Scotch. I wouldn’t use a peaty Islay, although I might try a French brandy. The red pepper is there for colour, so don’t worry if you haven’t got it.
Serves 6 as a starter
1 kilo uncooked prawns, or 750g shelled
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large red pepper, finely shredded (optional)
3-4 tbsp whiskey (or whisky)
two handfuls of coriander or rocket leaves
Salad leaves and herbs or baby spinach to cover six plates
If using uncooked prawns, put them in a large pan of fast-boiling salted water, bring back to the boil, cook for a further 3-4 minutes, then drain. If using cooked, shelled prawns, blot with kitchen paper.
Heat up the butter and oil in a large, thick-based frying pan, toss in the garlic, stir, add the red pepper if using, then the prawns. Stir them round, then pour in the whisk(e)y and light with a match. If you’re using gas, make sure the flames aren’t going up the side of the pan and keep long hair well back (experience tells me that singed hair adds nothing to the occasion).
Once the flames have died down, stir in the coriander or rocket and serve immediately on the salad leaves and with all the buttery juices. Put salt, pepper and bread on the table.