Many Turks would have trouble recognising this dish as part of their cuisine. Kadayıf pastry is mostly used for desserts (in a sugar and cheese confection called künefe ) and jumbo prawns are not a common ingredient across the country— being pretty much confined to the area around Mersin on the Mediterranean coast. But I still claim this for my culture because the recipe was a gift from my Aunty Meral, who suggested the idea of wrapping prawns in pastry when I first opened my restaurant in Sydney in 2007. It went down a treat with Australians, who love to throw a ‘shrimp’ on the barbie.
Kadayıf pastry is not easy to make at home, so we suggest you buy it ready-made. In Turkey it’s manufactured in an elaborate process whereby thin streams of batter are drizzled onto a spinning hot plate, so they dry instantly and form bunches. Its full name is tel kadayıf, which translates as ‘string dough’. It is similar to Italian vermicelli, so if you can’t find kadayıf, you could buy vermicelli or fresh angel hair pasta instead. You’d soften the pasta in boiling water for a minute, drain it, add the ghee and orange, and bunch it together in ribbons about 1 cm (½ in) wide, ready to wrap around the prawns.