Prawns served with the spicy chilli dip, harissa and a squeeze of lime brings back memories of a holiday in Tunisia.
I actually got the idea for the recipe from an old copy of Australian Gourmet Traveller, one of my favourite food magazines, which in its turn got the inspiration from a chef called Matthew Gudykunst from the Smolt restaurant in Tasmania. And that’s all she wrote.
Skill level: Moderate
40g smoked paprika
400g raw tiger prawns, cleaned, tails intact
lime wedges, to serve
1 x large red pepper
3 x plum tomatoes, halved lengthways
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp caraway seeds
½ tbsp fennel seeds
150ml olive oil
½ x red onion, finely chopped
3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 x red chillies, roughly chopped
50g tomato puree
½ tsp smoked paprika
25ml sherry vinegar
½ x bunch each coriander and basil, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp sea salt
- Preheat the oven to Gas mark 2-3/160C.
- Begin by making the harissa. Heat the grill on a high heat and char-grill the red pepper, turning occasionally until skin blisters and blackens, (about 10-15 minutes). Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set aside to cool, then peel (discard seeds).
- Transfer the pepper to an oven tray, add tomato and roast until tender; (about 40-45 minutes). When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop and set aside.
- Cook spices in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (3-5 minutes), then pound with a mortar and pestle until finely ground.
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add onion, garlic and chillies and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, (about 10-15 minutes). Add red pepper, roast tomato and tomato paste to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have broken down, (about 35-40 minutes).
- Add ground spices, paprika and vinegar, season to taste and set aside to cool.
- Transfer to a food processor, add herbs and process until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into serving bowl. (This will make about 375ml).
- Begin making the cumin salt by cooking the spices in a small frying pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant, (about 3-5 minutes). Transfer half into a mortar and grind with a pestle to a fine powder, then add remaining spices and coarsely grind. Transfer back to frying pan, add sea salt and cook until lightly toasted, (about 2-3 minutes).
- Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C.
- Sift cornflour into a bowl, add paprika and season to taste. Toss prawns in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then deep-fry in batches until golden and crisp (1-2 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper and season with cumin salt.
- Serve prawns with harissa, extra cumin salt and lime wedges.