Prawns are sometimes eaten on their own, perhaps with one dip or a variety of dips; tossed into salads; or cooked as part of Asian dishes, for instance with noodles, or as key components of curries or dumplings. Think of this recipe then as a decidedly less adventurous way to prepare prawns: sans dips, greenery, and Asian influences, but instead as a lower calorie variation on fish and chips, or simply as an unbreaded and unbattered version of prawns/shrimp/scampi and fries. Think of this easy recipe, in short, anyway which will allow you to best enjoy it.
The differences between prawns and shrimp are confused and mildly contested. The two terms are not scientific, and where a distinction is made, it is that prawns are larger species – with longer legs and more sets of claws – while shrimp are smaller. However, ‘shrimp’ is the commonplace term for all varieties sold and served in the United States, while in the United Kingdom and many other Commonwealth countries ‘prawn’ is much more common, with ‘shrimp’ reserved only for very small species.
The situation in the UK is the case in Australia too – despite the popular saying ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’, which in fact originates from a series of Australian Tourism Commission advertisements aired in America in the 1980s, starring the actor Paul Hogan. To promote the country in America, ‘shrimp’ was used instead of ‘prawn’, despite ‘shrimp’ rarely appearing as such within Australia. The first advert in the series was launched during the National Football Conference Championship Game in January 1984, and soon helped take Australia from 78th to 1st on the list of the most desired vacation destinations for Americans.
The point is that you can use prawns or shrimp to make this dish: whatever differences there are should matter little. My recipe simply requires that you stir fry or pan fry the seafood, with garlic and other spices and flavourings, for a few brief minutes. Meanwhile, for the fries I used frozen fries rather than cutting and cooking potato from scratch. I have had some success using a mandoline on potatoes and making french fries, crinkle cut fries, and crinkle cut chips; but I’ve never managed the level of crispness which I achieve by simply throwing frozen fries into hot oil. It is worth taking frozen fries out of the freezer a while before cooking, to allow them to defrost.
I spiced the fries with a Swedish ‘pommes frites krydda’. This is a combination of ordinary salt, onion salt, celery salt, paprika, and sugar. You might use a combination of these ingredients; you may opt for just paprika; and I am aware that some people enjoy elaborating their fries with supplements such as Parmesan cheese. For this dish, Parmesan may prove too much – but I am not about to circumscribe your preferences, and warmly afford you the opportunity to spice your fries however you wish.
Ingredients (for two people)
- 200g peeled prawns
- 400-500g frozen french fries
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small red chilli
- Garlic powder
- Lime juice
- Soy sauce
- French fry seasoning (salt/’pommes frites krydda’/paprika/etc.)
I reckon that I used about 400-500 grams of frozen french fries for two people, which produced a not-insurmountable surfeit of fries. I know that I used 200 grams of peeled prawns, from frozen, which proved about right.
- Heat enough sunflower oil in a deep pan or wok to cook the french fries.The oil will need to largely – but not necessarily entirely – cover the fries.
- Cook the fries, in a couple of batches if necessary, until they are golden in colour and crisp on the outside.
- Once cooked, set the fries aside and spice.
- In a frying pan or wok, heat a little sunflower oil.
- Dice the garlic cloves and the chilli, and add to the pan.
- Throw in the prawns.
- Season the prawns with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and some chilli flakes if desired, and fry them lightly in the oil, tossing for three or four minutes.
- Add a splash of lime juice during cooking, and a dash of soy sauce as you’re about to turn off the heat.
I used the same large wok for all of the cooking: frying the fries first, then getting rid of the excess oil before cooking the prawns. The prawns do not need much cooking time. Serve the prawns atop or beside the fries; and with some sort of side salad, beans, bread, or whatever.