Masala prawns

A delicious mouthful

Masala prawns

Masala prawns: The distinction between shrimp and prawns is largely ignored in favor of other goals, like coaxing bold flavor from the briny deep. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

The English have a unique way with English. For instance, they pronounce "shrimp" as "prawn."

Here we tend to toss all the little 10-legged, long-antennaed swimmers in the "shrimp" basket. Now and then a fancy menu calls the big ones "prawns."

There they tend to toss all the little 10-legged, long-antennaed swimmers in the "prawn" basket. Now and then a fancy menu calls the big ones "shrimp."

The shrimp or prawn or marine biologist might point out that the 10-legged, long-antennaed swimming family knows dozens of clans, each with unique, if very small and very subtle, characteristics.

Distinctions many a fisherman casts aside — and many a cook ignores in favor of other goals, like coaxing bold flavor from the briny deep.

At Dishoom Bombay Cafe in London, chefs marinate the crustaceans in a spicy mix of garlic, ginger and onion, crisp them pink and brighten them with cilantro and lime. Call them shrimp. Or prawns. Or delicious.

Masala prawns

Prep: 30 minutes
Wait: 2 hours
Cook: 8 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left on
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
4 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
6 green onions, white and tender green, coarsely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves (save a few leaves as garnish)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges, for serving

Dry:
Rinse and pat dry shrimp.

Marinate:
Combine all remaining ingredients (except lime wedges) in the food processor or blender. Swirl completely smooth. Toss with shrimp. Cover and chill, at least 2 hours.

Skewer:
If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water, 10 minutes. Thread shrimp onto skewers. (Best to skewer each through both body and tail.)

Grill:
Light (or spark) a medium-hot grill. Oil grates. (Alternatively use a ridged griddle set over medium-high heat on the stove top.) Grill (or griddle) directly over heat until curled, pink and crispy, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with reserved cilantro leaves and lime wedges.

Provenance:
Dishoom Bombay Cafe, London.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.

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