Cooking prawns is probably one of the quickest easiest things to do in a restaurant, get a hot pan sear on one side for 15 seconds, flip it over, and another 15 seconds, done. This method is very effective, but if you are looking for the best prawns you have ever tried, this is probably not going to get the job done. Prawns are very finicky, in that if you over cook them slightly they are rubber, under cook them, and not quite edible, there is a fine line here where they are absolutely perfect. Now this method I am going to show you isn't exactly the 30 second quick sear, and there is many different stages to the cooking process, I assure you this will yield the absolute best tasting prawn that can be used for hot, or cold applications alike.
Step 1 - Make a court bouillon
The first step will be making a court bouillon. A court bouillon is just an acidulated stock (a stock that has an acid added to it). The acid used to add to the stock is usually citrus, vinegar, or wine, or a combination. I usually like the combination of citrus, and wine together, as it produces a softer, more delicate court bouillon. To find out how to make the prawn stock, you can refer to our earlier blog on how to make a proper white stock here; https://www.caciopepemeals.com/blogs/news/stocks
Along with adding the acid to the stock (here I used white wine, lemon, and orange), I usually add a combination of aromatics that weren't in the original prawn stock, in this case I used coriander seed, and fennel, as it is a nice neutral aromatic combination that can be used in many different cuisines. If I were going to be using the prawns in a more Asian cuisine application, I might have added lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, and cilantro.
Simmering the court bouillon with your added acids and aromatics for 30 minutes, and then strainer the mix into a clean container, and chill in an ice bath, or into the fridge overnight so the mixture is well chilled.
Step 2 - Cure your prawns
The next step is curing your prawns, basically coating them in equal parts sugar and salt (shell off prawns allows for more even cooking, and more flavour to transfer to the prawn). Curing the prawns gives them a nice plumpness, and bite that you look for in the perfect prawn. Just enough to coat each prawn, toss them with your hands so they get covered, and let sit for 15 minutes, out at room temperature.
Step 3 - Rinse your prawns
Rinse the cure off your prawns gently, using cold water, and set aside for the next step.
Step 4 - Add court bouillon to the prawns
The next step is adding the court bouillon to your prawns. The classic method is bringing the court bouillon up to a boil, pouring overtop of your prawns, and letting them sit for 5 minutes in the bouillon, then checking one for doneness, if perfectly opaque, removed and then chilled in an ice bath so that they do not over cook. We are not going to use this method, as we are going for the perfect prawn, and with this method, it leaves a little bit to human error. Recently we have quite a few of our customers asking what are some good foods to cook sous vide, and how do they go about it, so this right here is for you guys. Place the cured prawns into a bag, (vacuum, ziplock, whatever means you have in your kitchen), pour the chilled court bouillon into the bag with the prawns. Usually about a cup of liquid will do it, enough so that it will cover each prawn. Take the air from your bag, ziplock, and seal bag closed.
Step 5 - Set your circulator to 158 degrees
Step 6 - Cook the prawns for 10-15 minutes
Usually the prawns will be cooked perfectly at 10 minutes, massage the bag a couple of times during cooking to make sure they are cooking evenly.
Step 7 - Transfer to an ice bath
Transfer the bags of prawns to an ice bath, or run under cold water until chilled. Then transfer to the fridge until ready to use. If you are planning on serving the prawns hot, this could be your final step right out of the circulator, or you could also keep them in the fridge, and reheat in a circulator at 125 degrees for 5-10 minutes to bring to temperature when ready to use. If you are using the prawns in a cold application, cut a tiny corner of the bag the prawns are in, and discard the court bouillon, or pour into ice cube trays, freeze, and use for a later use again.
Step 7 - Enjoy your perfectly cooked prawns!