Tis the season… for cocktail parties, family get-togethers, potluck parties, and any other number of opportunities for you to hone your party-food skills. You want options that can be easily passed around, grabbed with one hand, and finished in a few bites; you also want a recipe that’s so memorably tasty people will demand you make it again and again.
Prawn cakes, made by chopping shrimp in the food processor, are great as a dinner option, but with a twist on their shape they’re one of my favourite dishes to make for parties, too. Not only are they easy to make, they’re incredibly tasty and, frankly, much less expensive than crab. (I love crab cakes! I do! But their price feels like you have to make them for "An Occasion", with capital letters, and if you’re not wearing a tuxedo, you’re just wasting everybody’s time.) The best part about prawn cakes is that you can flavour them any way you like.
My Thai-influenced version of prawn cakes is the one I go to most often. A generous amount of fresh coriander gives them a bright, fresh flavour and a beautiful green colour. If you’re one of those coriander haters: (a) dont accept my party invitation; (b) parsley, basil, or mint (or a combination of all three) would be a fine substitution. I also add garlic, spring onions, and sometimes lime zest to the mix.
To deliver spice, I include jalapeños because they’re available year-round, but you can use any hot pepper you like. Thai birds eye chilis or piri piri are a great addition if you prefer the elevated heat. Its always wise to keep things on the milder side when cooking for parties: One person’s “delightfully spicy” is another’s “are you trying to kill me?” (And you can always add more heat with the sauce.)
I like my prawn cakes to have texture, but I also want them to hold together well during cooking, and to have some spring when you bite into them. To get there, after processing the prawns I add a quantity of breadcrumbs piecemeal, until I achieve a texture that binds the mixture. This gives moist cakes that won’t fall apart.The perils of disintegrating fritters aren’t restricted to those with less experience.So don’t treat it as a catastrophe;put it down to experience.Experienced cooks also cock them up every now and then, as as I myself know only too well.Add breadcrumbs or a little flour to a mix that’s too wet, or egg yolk if it’s too dry. And with starchy stuff like rice or spuds, a tight squeeze when shaping will help hold things together. In other words, if a fritter falls apart in your hands, it’s unlikely to stay in one piece in the pan, so it pays to get the base right first.There’s no one secret to avoiding collapse but, with time, you’ll get a feel for it.
500g 81lb) green ( raw ) prawns,shelled
1 green chilli,chopped
tbsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp white pepper
3 spring onions,finely sliced
grated zest of 1/2 a lime,optional
2 tbsp chopped coriander,roots and leaves
1 cup ( 250ml ) ground nut oil
Place prawns, chilli, fish sauce, garlic, turmeric, pepper and coriander in a food processor and process to a paste.Fold in the spring onions. Slowly add breadcrumbs until you achieve a texture that will hold together in the pan.Shape the prawn mixture with the help of a round pastry cutter, into mini cakes 6cm (21/4 in) in diameter.Heat the oil in afrying pan until hot.Add the prawn cakes and shallow fry until golden.Remove and drain on paper towels.Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
Coriander drop scones
2 eggs beaten, plus 1 egg yolk
1 level tsp Flor de sal
tsp chilli flakes or powder
Soup spoon finely chopped fresh coriander
2 heaped tbsp self-raising flour
Juice 1/2 lemon
Make a batter with the above ingredients by pouring the beaten egg gradually into the seasoned flour.Beat in the lemon juice.Brush a hot flat griddle pan or non-stick frying pan with a little butter.
Drop tablespoons of the batter onto this,2 or 3 at a time, turning the muffins as soon as they are set, and let them just brown on the reverse sides they are still somewhat soft.Keep them warm, wrapped in clean tea towel, in a low oven 250F (130C) or on a hotplate.
Chilli Tomato butter
6 oz ( 175g ) butter, softened
3 tsp tomato purée
pinch of dry mustardtsp of sriracha sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients to a smooth paste.It should be served soft.You can freeze what is left over for use with grilled fish,chicken or chops.
First make your scones and keep them warm covered in the oven until ready to use.
Fry your prawn cakes and likewise keep them warm in the oven while you boil your quails eggs.
Place a drop scone in the centre of each plate.Place a small dollop of tomato butter on top of the warm scone and sit a prawn cake on top of the butter so the butter melts.finally place a poached quails egg on top of the prawn cake.
A cheffy trick for poaching any kind of eggs!!!!
If you have a lot of quail eggs to poach, this is the way to do a batch at a time. This recipe is an example with 6 quail eggs, but it is easy to increase by two or 3 times the quantity
6 quails eggs
60ml white wine vinegar
In saucepan, bring 600ml of water to the boil.
Pour the vinegar into a small bowl.
With a small paring knife, cut open the quail eggs and pour their contents into the vinegar. Leave for 5 minutes. This ensures that the egg white stays together.
Pour the vinegar and the eggs into the boiling water in one go, and turn the heat to low.
Poach for 1 minute and 20 seconds, and then remove from the pan with a skimmer.
Use immediately, or chill in ice water for later use.