Tomatoes and basil; peanut butter and chocolate; lobster and butter. These are intrinsic pairings.
When the bok choy arrived in my CSA bin, I thought I had in my head an intrinsic pairing. I planned to introduce an Asian flavoured preparation of the bok choy with grilled prawns, Asian style. And with peaches in full array, it made perfect sense to put the prawns and peaches together, and match the lime and sweetness of the prawns with the sweetness of the peaches. This worked and worked very well and is a pairing I’ll continue … what didn’t work was serving it on the bed of bok choy; regardless of how Asian influenced it was, regardless that the bok choy recipe was excellent, the bok choy didn’t match the prawn and peaches. On the contrary: the sweetness of the entrée made the bok choy taste oddly sour by comparison and this did nothing to complement the prawns … and it actually fought with the prawns and peaches.
Both recipes on their own were very successful but the prawns and peaches turned out exceptionally … and so I share them here. For those who are comfortable cooking prawns/shrimp on the barbie, there is very little trick except the slight addition of some sugar to the recipe. I read about this technique in an edition of Cooks Illustrated last year and it stuck — the notion that the little bit of sugar will create an ever-so-slight crust on the shrimp and seal in the moisture. For those not comfortable grilling prawns — let alone the peaches — the key here is to grill them fast and hot. 8-10 minutes is all this should take. A few more cooking tips: pick ripe but still firm peaches (in season) and cut them so they’re almost the same size as the prawns (so that the prawns can touch the grill as well). Peel and devein the prawns, but I leave the tails on for effect and to protect their tapered ends. Peeled, the seasoning will penetrate better but it puts the shrimp more at risk of drying out — the peaches will protect them. However, don’t salt them until you have skewered them so that you don’t draw out and lose any more moisture. Finally, use a pair of excellent tongs for turning them so that you can grab the whole skew carefully and turn and remove without losing any of the fruit.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Stand time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1½ hours
Grilled Prawns with Lime and Peaches
- 1 lb (454g) large, uncooked prawns (16-20 per pound)
- 3-4 fresh peaches
- 1 lime, zested (1 teaspoon lime zest)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped chiffonade and divided in half
- 1½ teaspoons of blackening spices
→ see Blackening Spice Recipe here
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
- Prepare the shrimp. Wash, peel, and devein and place in a glass non-reactive bowl. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and ensure all the shrimp are well coated. Add the blackening spices and mix. Zest the lime and add it to the shrimp. Chop the basil and add half of it (½ tablespoon) to the shrimp … reserve the other half for the peaches. Add the sugar and mix. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat your barbecue grill to 425ºF.
- Remove prawns from the fridge and sprinkle with salt and mix.
- Prepare the peaches. Wash and cut them along the cleft in their flesh and twist to release the halves. Remove the pits. Slice each peach half into thirds or quarters.
→ The goal here is to have enough peach slices to separate the prawns plus cover the end, so choose the number of peaches you need according to their size and the number of prawns you’re grilling.
- Place peaches in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and remaining basil. Carefully mix together to ensure peaches are well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Skewer the peaches and prawns by alternating peach, prawn, peach etc. Try to make sure you end with a peach slice as these will protect the shrimp from drying out.
- Oil and wipe the grill and place the skewers on the barbecue. Grill for 4-5 minutes on one side and turn once the shrimp have turned opaque on the grill-side and grill marks have appeared. Carefully turn them and grill for an additional 4-5 minutes.
- With tongs, very carefully remove from grill and serve either on the skewers or removed and carefully plated. Serve with fresh lime wedges or squeeze the juice over the shrimp before eating.
Wine Pairing: A new-world (e.g. New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc or a semi-dry rosé would be perfect.