In this recipe, parsley and champagne balance the rich sauce and sweet meat, and the left-over bubbly makes for a perfect pairing.
Single people may have a reputation for living in the lap of luxury — with our vast “it’s all ours” income — but most of us live more frugal lives. Nevertheless, we deserve a treat now and then, and this recipe will do the trick.
In the United States they are known as shrimp. But I’m Australian, so I call them prawns. But no matter what you call them, they are delicious. The meat is deliciously delicate and to be at its best, requires very little cooking. (We’ve all had those rubbery, tasteless ones that have been boiled beyond the pale.) I prefer to fry them very quickly in a little oil or butter. Don’t over-do the garlic though. It should enhance the flavor of the meat without dominating. Add a little salt if you like.
Crustaceans hold a great deal of their flavor in the shell so buy whole, green (raw) ones when you can and use the shells to make sauce or stock. If you have my book, Single Serve you know I have a recipe for prawn stock and for a bisque using the stock with potatoes.
The Messy Part:
Removing the shell takes a little practice; start by lifting the legs on one side up towards the back of the shrimp then place your fingers between the flesh and the shell. Lift the shell away from the flesh, up over the back and down to the legs on the other side. This may take two or three tries, depending on the size of the shrimp.
To remove the head and digestive tract, gently pull the head away from the body, drawing the digestive tract out of the flesh. Remove the head and tip the juices out, then take the end of the digestive tract firmly and pull it out slowly. You’ll get the hang of it. If it doesn’t all come out, insert the point of a wooden skewer under the flesh and draw the tract out of the opening. Discard the digestive tract but keep the heads.
I know this all sounds a little gross, and it is, but don’t be afraid to get down and dirty when you’re in the kitchen. Now that you have done the hard work, here is the recipe.
6 whole green shrimp
¼ cup of sparkling wine
1 small clove of garlic, sliced or grated finely
½ tsp. chilli flakes
1-2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp. butter
½ tbsp. cooking oil
Spaghetti or fettuccine
TIP: How do you know how much pasta to cook?
- Make the okay sign.
- Move the tip of your index finger (forefinger) down to the base of your thumb.
- Push as much spaghetti or fettuccini into the “O” as fits. That is how much pasta you need to cook for one person, (that’s you).
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water as described on the packaging.
Peel and clean the shrimp as described above.
When the pasta is cooked, reserve a half cup of the water and drain off the rest of the water. Place the cooked pasta in your serving bowl.
Cover the pasta to keep it warm then return the pot to the heat and wait for any remaining water to evaporate before adding the butter.
When the butter has melted, add the shrimp shells and heads and fry them for two minutes.
Pour the wine into the pot and add the chili and garlic.
Cook until the wine evaporates then add the pasta water.
Cover the pot and boil the shells for two minutes then remove the lid and let the pot boil for another minute or two so that the liquid thickens a little.
Strain the liquid and mix it through the pasta with the chopped parsley. Don’t throw the shells or heads away. They can still be boiled up to make more stock in future, so wrap them in plastic and freeze them.
Return the pot to the heat and when the remaining sauce has evaporated, pour in the cooking oil.
Fry the prawns for about one minute on each side, taking them off the heat when you can see the center is still rare. Don’t worry. By the time you serve them they will be perfect.
Stack the shrimp on top of the pasta and serve with a glass of the remaining champagne.
Copyright © Louise Harper/2018 Singular Communications, LLC.
Louise Harper is a sculptor turned cook who specializes in recipes for one. She lives in Melbourne Australia (in a house for one, of course) and loves cooking “just for her.” For more information on her “single” series of cook books, visit www.singleserve.net.au