From stunning tropical coastline to barren red earth heart, you won’t travel far in Australia without stumbling across a seafood restaurant or seafood market. While not all of us are lovers of surfing the ocean waves, what the majority of us have in common is a clear obsession for chowing down on delicious seafood. Of course that’s no surprise since our home is girt by sea… Didn’t get the national anthem reference? No matter. This instalment isn’t about educating you on Australian culture, but one important ocean critter that feeds it.
At Mercado, seafood is our hero. You might have picked up on the giant fish hanging pride of place above our marvellous display of fresh seafood varietals. Of course there is no way that a single blog provides us with enough words to do the full extent of our seafood offering justice, especially since in true Mercado style we choose to educate you beyond the raw produce, including in our posts, exactly how to cook it, what to pair it with and what tipple to sip alongside (while you cook, of course).
We’re kicking off our seafood chronicles by shining a spotlight on our beloved, meaty seafood critter, the prawn. But not just any one prawn – three Australian natives that we can proudly rave about.
The Tiger Prawn
Large and flavoursome. Tiger prawns have moist, firm flesh and a medium flavour. They are distinctive in colour, with grey, blue or black stripes, which turn a familiar shade of red when cooked. The Tiger prawn pairs perfectly with anchovies, a squeeze of your favourite citrus and a healthy dollop of delicious saffron infused aioli. Of course white wine is the usual suspect on the recommendation list to drink alongside your Tiger Prawns, however be sure to pick a Dry Riesling – it will take your flavour experience to a whole other level!
Want to make it a meal? Here’s a recommendation that will make your mouth water…and burn slightly!
Sizzling Prawn Fajitas (with Chipotle Hot Sauce & Tequila Mayo)
24 green Australian Tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chipotle in adobe
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 yellow capsicum, sliced
Tomato Salsa Ingredients:
1 250 g punnet mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup coriander leaves chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 long red chilli finely chopped
2 spring onions sliced
Corn tortillas chipotle hot sauce and fresh lime to serve
Tequila mayonnaise Ingredients:
2 tablespoons tequila
½ cup mayonnaise
Combine tequila and mayonnaise into a bowl.
Stir until combined.
Tomato Salsa Method:
Combine coriander, tomatoes, lime and chilli into a bowl.
Season to taste with salt.
Stir to combine.
Prawn Fajitas Method:
Place prawns, paprika chipotle and oil in a bowl and mix to coat.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat hot plate over hight heat.
Add onion and capsicum. Cook for 2 mins.
Add garlic. Cook for a further 1 min.
Add prawns. Cook through (2-3 mins).
Sprinkle with fresh chilli and spring onion.
Serve with grilled corn tortillas, hot sauce, lime and tomato salsa.
The King Prawn
Larger than their Tiger Prawn cousin, King Prawns are Australia’s most popular prawns. They have moist, medium-firm flesh and a rich seafood flavour. When raw, they’re easy to spot in even the most extravagant seafood display – just look for the bright blue tail! When looking for an accompaniment for these large crustaceans, again look no further than a couple of anchovies, a squeeze of citrus and our favourite saffron aioli – the perfect balance of flavours for these beauties. When you’re on the hunt for a glass to match, you can’t go wrong with a Sauvignon Blanc or a Gewürztraminer if you’re feeling exotic (or bilingual).
Serving prawns as the lunch or dinner hero?! Wise choice. Here’s an asian inspired recipe to inspire your kitchen creativity:
South Indian Prawn Curry
4 golden shallots, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
20 g (4 cm piece) ginger, coarsely chopped
1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 long green chillies, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1½ teaspoon ground turmeric
800 ml coconut milk
1 fresh curry leaf sprig
1 lemongrass stalk, bruised and white part finely chopped
1 cinnamon quill
1 star anise
1½ tablespoons soft palm sugar, or to taste
16 peeled green Australian prawns, cleaned
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
100 g small Swiss brown mushrooms, halved
Steamed rice, fried shallots, broccolini and lime wedges to serve
Blitz ginger, shallot and garlic in a food processor.
Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add blitzed mixture and chillies. Stir intermittently for 2 mins.
Add spices. Stir intermittently for 2 mins.
Add 100ml of water, the pre-measured coconut milk, curry leaf sprig, cinnamon, lemongrass, star anise. Simmer for 10-15 mins.
Season with palm sugar, sea salt to taste.
Add prawns, broccolini and mushrooms. Simmer until prawns are just cooked through and vegetables are tender.
Serve with steamed rice.
Scattered with fried shallots, broccolini and lime wedges.
Mild and sweet in flavour, Banana Prawns are a medium size and come in two varietals. The regular Banana Prawn are distinguishable with red legs, while the white Banana Prawns have cream and yellow legs – just to confuse you! We like to cook these colourful prawns with equally colourful ingredients, including Spanish garlic, chilli, parsley, butter and white wine. Don’t worry, only a splash! After all, a Chenin Blanc or an Off-dry Riesling are the perfect match for the Banana prawn and you won’t want to be losing more than a few drops of either of those delicious drops.
Prawns are one of those foods that are too good to be shared, well at least some of the time! Here’s a quick, simple and healthy recipe for when you’re whipping up a delicious dinner for one.
Prawn Brown Rice Poke Bowl
4 cooked peeled Australian prawns
50g thinly shaved white cabbage
50g thinly sliced pineapple
1 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways
1/3 cup coriander sprigs
Warm brown rice, to serve
Thinly sliced long green chilli, toasted coconut flakes and lime wedges, to serve
Coconut-green Chilli Dressing Ingredients:
40 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 long green chilli, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
1/4 garlic clove, finely grated
Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake.
Season to taste.
Poke Bowl Method:
Combine all ingredients into a metal bowl
Add 3/4 dressing
Toss Lightly to combine
Place warm rice into bowl. Top with prawn mixture. Drizzle with extra dressing to taste. Scatter chilling and coconut flakes. Serve with lime wedges.