prawns with harissa dipping sauce and cumin salt

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.

Serves 6
Skill level: Moderate

vegetable oil
150g cornflour
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

cumin salt
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 2-3/160C.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Add ground spices, paprika and vinegar, season to taste and set aside to cool.
  7. 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).
  8. 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).
  9. Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C.
  10. 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.
  11. Serve prawns with harissa, extra cumin salt and lime wedges.


    Shu Han said...

    that looks delicious! I love seafood, and these prawns look so sweet and juicy, lovely with the spices! also, just read your profile and realised you grew up in malaysia and stay in london now, which is a nice surprise for me, because I grew up in singapore but study in london now (: probably why we're both so into spice huh ;)

    Food Glorious Food! said...

    I love prawns even the the long long list of ingredients not scaring me away :)