I love seafood. My meals at home always have at least one fish course. Mom and I got to the fish market once or twice a week to stock up on prawns, mandeli, bangda, and halwa. My mother usually sticks to Mangalorean curries while I whip up continental meals.
When I’m hungry, I lack the patience to grind masala, marinate, and finally cook a decent curry. So I have several recipes which take roughly 20 minutes to cook. One such recipe is this Prawn Penne. Personally, I prefer spaghetti with prawns but I ran out of spaghetti and had only penne in my pantry.
The recipes calls for very few ingredients which every household has. Vodka is optional, however, if used properly, it adds a great dimension to the dish. You must be careful while flambéing so go slow when you reach the step.
Penne – 4 handfuls (two handfuls per person)
Fresh prawns – 2 cups
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Garlic – 4 cloves, finely chopped
Green chilli – finely chopped, as per taste
Tomatoes – 2, finely chopped
Vegetable stock cube – 2
Vodka – 60ml
Olive oil – 3 tbsp
Water for boiling
Sugar – 1 tsp
Fresh coriander for garnish
1. In a large pot, set water to boil with enough salt to make the water taste like sea-water.
2. In a large pan, heat up olive oil and add the onions. With the onions, add the stock cube and stir it around. Cook gently till translucent. The salt in the stock cube helps cook the onions without browning them too much.
3. The water must be boiling by now. Add the pasta and stir around. Boil for exactly 8 minutes. Many people wonder how much pasta to cook so the ratio is two handfuls for one person. This recipe requires four handfuls as it serves two.
4. To the pan, add garlic and green chilli. Continue to cook through.
5. When the pan ingredients looks nicely cooked, add chopped tomatoes and sugar. The sugar is to balance out the flavours. Mix it well.
6. Add prawns and mix.
7. When the tomatoes looks like they’ve broken down, drizzle about 60 ml of vodka and flambé. To flambé, make sure you’ve cranked up the heat to full whack. Lift the pan and tilt it slightly into the flame. The vodka will catch fire and that’s how you flambé. I cannot stress enough how carefully this needs to be done. If you are nervous, you can skip this entirely.
8. Take a ladle and spoon some of the pasta boiling water into the pan. The prawns will take 2 minutes to cook through.
9. When 8 minutes are up, drain out the pasta and save some water. Add pasta to the pan and toss well. If you think it looks too dry, add the reserved water and mix it well. The starch in the water will help thicken the sauce and stick to the pasta.
10. Add coriander and give it a final mix. Serve immediately.