Got a bag of prawns? Then supper is sorted

Date:21-05-2013 07:58:06 read:2

Got a bag of prawns? Then supper is sorted

The prawn cocktail may have fallen out of fashion, but that's no reason to give up on its sweet, meaty star. Here are some new ideas for a 1970s staple.

Spiced corn and prawn cakes with avocado cream Photo: YUKI SUGIURA
< >
  • Article

    Prawn, sweet potato and coconut curry

  • Article

    Portuguese prawn fritters recipe

  • Article

    Spiced corn and prawn cakes with avocado cream recipe

It's a bad idea to loiter in my good local supermarket. Though I've just gone in for those chocolate rolls my kids love (the ones that are sold – dangerously – in small buckets), I inevitably succumb to a treat for myself. There are unwritten rules for food writers. These days that means not having anything impure or inauthentic – potatoes must come with half a barrowful of soil, and it's good to know not just the name of the farmer who's produced your pork chop but those of his children, too. (Yes, I stand accused.) But there are great 'impure' food pleasures – a fish-finger sandwich (get out the Hellmann's!), a late-night bowl of Coco Pops (I know, but it can cheer a girl up) and a ready-made prawn cocktail (good quality, of course, and I do add more Tabasco). It tastes of the 1970s (and therefore my childhood). And while I'm flinging this in my basket, I remember what a quick supper a bag of prawns can make.

Prawns – big, fat Dublin Bay ones that I peeled with my mum every Friday night – were one of the treats of growing up in Northern Ireland. They totally spoiled me. When I came to live in England in the 1980s I couldn't believe that they weren't available – relatively cheaply – here, too. The price of Scottish langoustines was eye-watering and the affordable alternative was bagged supermarket prawns. In those days they were tiny, slightly rubbery and tasted more of their plastic bag than of the sea.

We've come a long way since then. Langoustines are still expensive, but bags of cooked cold-water prawns (Sainsbury's, Waitrose and M&S all do Marine Stewardship Council certified ones) are sweet tasting and won't break the bank. King or tiger prawns are a more perplexing buy – they're usually farmed intensively and can be bad for local economies and the environment, but the Marine Conservation Society's guidelines give the OK to organic tiger prawns.

Toss a bag of prawns into your shopping basket and supper is nearly on the table. Defrosted tiger prawns cook in seconds. Cooked cold-water prawns can go into cooked dishes where they won't be exposed to fierce or prolonged heat or straight into salads. What could be better on a summer evening than a plateful of prawns, avocado and potatoes with a dill dressing? Though there's always that nostalgic classic. You could make your own little prawn cocktail…

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013