Peel-&-Eat Piri Piri Prawns


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


    as a Starter

Appears in

My Street Food Kitchen

My Street Food Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2015

  • About

Brazilians call these ‘malagueta prawns’, from the local name for the small ‘piri piri’ chillies in the sauce. I love the sauce brushed on butterflied chicken, beef ribs or pork chops on the grill. At first glance you may think it will be hot, but roasting the chillies first and mixing with vinegar tames them for a beautiful mouth-puckery sauce. Splitting the shell down the back of the prawn makes it easier to eat after grilling and keeps the flesh from drying out. Serve as a starter or with rice for a main meal.

Preparation: 15 Minutes
Cooking: 10 Minutes


  • 20 large raw prawns (shrimp), unpeeled
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Piri piri sauce

  • 4 finger-length fresh red chillies
  • 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 45 ml ( fl oz) red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • tablespoons olive oil


To make the piri piri sauce, place the chillies and garlic in a small frying pan over medium heat and dry-fry for 5 minutes or until blackened. When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic and chillies and remove the chilli seeds. Put them in a blender with the remaining ingredients and season with salt. Purée until the sauce is smooth.

Preheat a barbecue or a chargrill pan to medium-high. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent them from burning during cooking.

Remove the heads and legs from the prawns. Using kitchen scissors, cut a slit along the back of each prawn about 5 cm (2 inches) long and carefully remove the digestive tract. Put the prawns in a bowl, add half the piri piri sauce and toss to coat well. Thread one prawn onto each skewer, then cook for about 3 minutes on each side until grill marks appear and the shells turn a deep pink. Serve with the remaining piri piri sauce and lemon wedges to squeeze over.