Spicy Alaskan Spot Prawns with Fried Basil An Embarrassment of Riches

Have you ever been faced with one of those lucky dilemmas? The kind some people call an embarrassment of riches? Mine come with Spicy Alaskan Spot Prawns with Fried Basil.

Well I just want to spend a bit of what’s left of the holiday season thanking my lucky stars. First off, I’m healthy and I sleep in a warm bed at night, further warmed by the love of someone with whom I’ve spent more than 20 years. I have a beautiful home and wonderful friends. The blogosphere brings me happiness with its own special charms because it’s populated with so many terrific people.

That should be enough for one man, right? But guess what – I’ve also got a freezer full of Wild Alaskan Spot Prawns. Which led to this embarrassment of riches Spicy Alaskan Spot Prawns with Fried Basil.

You see, some friends and I came together to celebrate the holidays with a traditional Italian style Feast of the Seven Fishes. I had the idea when I traveled to Alaska this year to go fishing with Alaska Seafood. In case you didn’t know it, the state of Alaska has made it a priority to promote wild, natural and sustainably managed seafood for all the world to enjoy. Seafood is something I’m passionate about. So I approached them with the idea of a seven course holiday meal featuring all kinds of tasty tid-bits from the seas around Alaska. Seven Courses. Seven Cooks. Seven Fishes. The Feast of the Seven Fishes. There will be a lot more about this amazing evening coming very soon. Including a video of the celebration and all its riches. I promise you you will have hankering for fish after you see the meal we sat down to. So ask your market or local restaurant if they can provide you with the very best in Alaskan Seafood and make a feast of your own.

Which brings me to wild Alaskan Spot Prawns. Due to a change in the soup recipe the big pile of Spot Prawns that Alaska Seafood sent me went unused during our Feast. But that’s just one of the embarrassment of riches I was referring to. Because I couldn’t (wouldn’t) let that beautiful seafood go uncelebrated during the holiday season. So I included them as an appetizer for my Christmas Day dinner spent with a whole other group of friends. Another embarrassment of riches, indeed. GREG

Feast Table


Spicy Alaskan Spot Prawns with Fried Basil serves 8 as an appetizer CLICK here for a printable recipe

These prawns are a bit spicy and very fragrant. They are best when served hot, straight from the pan, so plan accordingly.

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 t freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 c olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 lb (16 to 20 count shrimp)
  • 6 clv garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 thai bird chilies, thinly sliced
  • 2 c packed basil leaves
  • 1 orange, zest only

Mix the flour mixture for shrimp: Combine the ingredients and set aside in container.

Peel the prawns but leave the tails intact. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture until well coated; then shake them to remove the excess.

Set a large cast iron or non stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the skillet and heat it until nearly smoking. Lay some shrimp into the pan in a single layer. Let the prawns begin to caramelize, about 1 1/2 minutes then turn them over and cook an additional minute or so. Move them to a serving plate as they cook. Work in batches if necessary, add more olive oil to the already hot saute pan as needed.

Add sliced garlic, stirring it around in the oil until lightly browned. Add chiles and let them get soft. Add the basil and stand back as it will pop  and sputter. Let it get crisp, less than a minute, then turn the heat off. Add the orange zest to the saute pan. Season with salt and pepper, then spoon this mixture over the prawns. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Michael Chiarello