Salt baking things often seems daunting, sounding very ‘cheffy’, but doing it with prawns is as easy as it is tasty. The salad that goes with them is especially good as it uses the Belazu trinity of preserved lemons, green olives and poponcini peppers, a combination that is like a flavour-firework.
For the prawns
• 16 large prawns, shell and head on
• 2 cocktail sticks
• 1.3 kg coarse sea salt
• 2 tbsp black peppercorns
• 1 tbsp cardamom pods, crushed
• 1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
• 4 bay leaves
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• 2 star anise, broken into pieces
• 2 sprigs thyme
• ½ lemon, cut into small pieces
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
For the salad
• 1 very large or 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into halves.
• 125g Black Venus Rice
• 200g Martini Olives, cut in half
• 4 Beldi Preserved Lemons, flesh removed, skin chopped into small pieces
• 100g Poponcini Peppers, cut into quarters
• 1 handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
• 2 tsp 1.25 Balsamic Vinegar
• 2 tbsp Lemon Oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
Put the black rice in a small pan and cover with 4 times the volume of water. Add a few pinches of salt, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for around 30 minutes, or until all or most of the water has evaporated. If you prefer the rice a little softer, add some more water and cook again till there is none left.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain, then place the broccoli on a rack above a tray to allow it to cool and drain.
Heat an oven to 190C. Place the coarse sea salt in a bowl and add all of the other ingredients except the prawns and mix thoroughly.
To de-vein the prawns, gently push the apart the point between the top of the head and body. Using a cocktail stick, try to hook the vein, which you can then pull out with your fingers. If you can’t get it, try going between 2 pieces of shell.
Take the dish out of the oven and carefully tuck the prawns in. WARNING The salt will be hot so use gloves or a cloth. Cover the prawns with the rest of the salt and put back in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
Whilst the prawns are cooking, chop the broccoli into a mixture different sized small pieces. It’s nice to have a mix of finely shredded and chunkier pieces. Put these in a bowl and add the olives, preserved lemons, poponcini peppers, black rice and chopped mint. Dress with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and transfer to a serving dish or plate, depending on how you want to serve.
Take the prawns out of the oven and carefully removed using tongs. They should be cooked but to check, give them a squeeze and if they fell firm they are ready. Put them on a plate and serve immediately. Remember they are hot so allow them to cool a little before peeling, but eat alongside the broccoli salad to enjoy the mixture of flavours.