Prawns a'l'Americaine

Cook time 40 minutes
Servings 4


1 1⁄2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1kg large green king prawns, peeled (head and tails reserved), deveined and tails kept in tact

1 star anise

20g butter

3 French shallots, finely chopped

2 tbsp cognac or brandy

200ml white wine

1 tsp of tomato paste

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

Salt and pepper

80ml pure cream

1 small handful each of chervil and/or tarragon leaves , finely chopped

Rice, to serve

Prawns a'l'Americaine


Place a saucepan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and, when hot, add the prawn heads, shells and star anise. Cook, stirring and crushing the heads with a wooden spoon, for 5–6 minutes until the heads and shells are very well coloured and aromatic. Add the star anise. Deglaze pan with half the wine then pour in 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain.

Heat a large frying pan over a high heat with a little extra virgin olive oil, add the prawns and cook for a few seconds on each side, then add the brandy and flambé́ (carefully ignite the alcohol with a match or lighter or from stove top and then wait for the flames to subside). Do this with caution!

Remove prawns and place on a plate. Then add the butter and shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes until softened and lightly coloured. Add the tomato paste followed by the remaining wine, stir and then add the tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes to break down with a pinch of salt and pepper. Now add 3 ladlefuls of the prawn stock, gently simmer until reduced by half. Add the cream and cook for a further minute to thicken up. Return the prawns to the pan and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Fold through the fresh herbs.

Serve in shallow bowls with freshly cooked rice.