Head from the Middle East to the Far East with the newest book from famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Penned along with chef Ramael Scully of London hot spot Nopi, this collection of inventive recipes hits every sweet spot along the flavor trail.
The combination of prawns and feta is a classic Greek combination — Prawns saganaki — that we’ve been playing with since the first Ottolenghi book. It’s a lovely dish to do, as everything can be prepared in advance and just cooked before serving. If we were to enter any NOPI recipe for a 15-minute-supper competition, this would be it. Get prawns as fresh as you can: It means you can leave the heads on, and their bright red bodies look just wonderful when they are cooked. It’s almost a must to serve this with some crusty white bread to mop up the juices.
- 16 tiger or king prawns (about 21 ounces), shells removed and deveined, heads and tails left on
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 1/4 ounces feta, broken into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 baby fennel bulbs or 1 large bulb, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/5-inch slices
- 3/4 cup pernod
- 2/3 cup vegetable stock
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 ounce tarragon, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac, to serve
For the prawns
Place the prawns in a bowl with the thyme, garlic, lemon zest, and 5 tablespoons/70 ml of oil. Mix to coat, cover, and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour or, preferably, overnight.
Place the feta in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle over the chili flakes and oregano. Stir gently, cover, and keep in the fridge until ready to use. This can also be done a day ahead.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the prawns and sear them for 1 to 2 minutes, turning them once or twice, until they are no longer translucent. Remove them from the pan and set aside while you add the fennel to the pan and fry for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it starts to soften and gain a good bit of color. Add the Pernod and cook for 1 minute, to reduce by half, then pour in the stock. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds and you have about 1/2 cup/120 ml of liquid left in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, tarragon, and 1/3 teaspoon of salt. Stir to melt the butter, add the prawns, then stir for 2 minutes, until you get a smooth and glossy sauce and the prawns are just cooked through.
Divide the prawns and fennel among four plates, bowls, or individual copper pans that have been warmed up and top with the chunks of marinated feta. Serve at once, with a sprinkle of sumac.