This recipe suits many sizes of prawns, from giant gambas (jumbo prawns) on down, including langoustines (scampi or Dublin Bay prawns). The prawns must be large, raw, and in their shells, with or without heads. Don’t use small shrimp, as they will absorb too much salt. Here is the place to use your special fleur de sel. You will find that your guests will jump right in, peeling the shellfish at the table as a first course or luxurious main course.
Peel and devein the prawns. Mix the cornstarch and salt in a bowl, add the prawns, and toss them until coated. Heat the oil in a sauté pan or deep frying pan over medium heat. When almost smoking, add half the prawns, spreading them flat in a single layer. Put a heavy pan on top of the prawns to press them down. Fry until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes, depending on their size. Remove the top pan, turn the prawns, press again, and brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the prawns from the pan and repeat with the remaining prawns, adding more oil if necessary.
Serve the prawns at once, very hot, passing the pepper mill for a topping of freshly ground pepper.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Chronicle Books.