Just when spring has me cooking up fresh vegetable-forward fare — peas and favas with mint, fresh garbanzos and braised artichokes, roasted radishes — I happen upon the first-of-the-season Alaska spot prawns.
These are hard to resist — big, juicy, sweet and delicate creatures from the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. I've done everything with them, from curing in soy sauce to tossing with semolina and rice flour for a light fritto misto. But when the ingredient is this fresh and delicious, it's good to remember that less is more.
Here, just plump garlic cloves, a hint of chili, and olive oil and citrus make for a quick and delicious meal. You can peel them before cooking or leave the shrimp with shells on; if you leave the shell on, they might need to cook an extra minute or two. Serve with crusty bread for dipping in the sauce or a simple green salad; stir into a risotto or toss with pasta.
Lemon garlic spot prawns
Serves 2 to 3
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound spot prawns or other large shrimp, peeled and cleaned, as needed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1 small fresh green (jalapeño) or red
Chili (Fresno), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime; other half thinly sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced or chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Pour in the olive oil, add the garlic and chilies and let the oil heat and infuse with the garlic and chili, about 3 minutes. Pat the peeled prawns dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the prawns. Let cook, gently shaking the pan as needed, about 3 minutes and until prawns start to turn pink. Shake pan and toss shrimp; let cook another minute or until just done; be careful not to overcook. Add lemon juice and lemon slices. Garnish with green onion or parsley, a little salt and pepper and another drizzle of good olive oil.
Kim Sunée is the bestselling author of "Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home" and "A Mouthful of Stars." For more food and travel, visit kimsunee.com and instagram/kimsunee.