It took me a whole year, but I’ve finally figured out my go-to quarantine weeknight meal. We’re late in the game, but luckily it will taste just as good once “this is all over.” It’s a meal that requires about 20 minutes to prepare, and four ingredients — two of which are kept in the freezer until you’re ready to start cooking. I’m talking about prawn frites, which is just the fancy way of saying “prawns and chips.” This is the meal I make when I have little energy but still want something that tastes and feels like a fully realised meal.
All you need to make this buttery, salty, filling supper is half a kilo of frozen, deveined prawns, a bag of frozen chips, some butter, and whatever seasonings you like on prawn and chips. Keep the prawns and chips in the freezer until you really need them. I’m not talking about those nights when you’re a little pressed to time, I’m talking about the evenings when you are tired of takeout, tired of cooking, and tired of life. Once you’re there, dump the frozen prawns into a colander and place them under cold running water for 7-10 minutes to defrost, giving them a toss every few minutes to make sure they thaw evenly. In the meantime, turn your oven on and set it to the temperature called for by the instruction of the french fry bag, then put the chips in the oven.
Once the prawns have thawed, place them on paper towels to drain, and check on the chips. When they’re about 5 minutes away from being done, melt four tablespoons of butter in a large pan over high heat. Once the butter is foaming — and just about to start browning — add the prawns and season with your favourite seasoning blend.
Could you add onion, fresh garlic, or some other aromatic? I guess, but this is a dish for evenings when you don’t feel like chopping, so reach for garlic salt or your preferred spice blend.
Cook and toss the prawn until it is just opaque and pink on both sides, then add a splash of wine or vermouth. (I have used red and white, sweet and dry; all work.) Let simmer for just a minute, then remove from the heat and finish with a squeeze of lemon if you have it (it’s ok if you don’t).
If you want a vegetable, make a side salad, or just chop up a scallion and sprinkle it on top for that pop of green. Both are nice, but neither is mandatory. Plate the prawns with the chips, and season them with the same blend you used on the prawns. Eat with your hands, using the chips to mop up any excess butter sauce. Ketchup and hot sauce are also allowed, as is any other condiment that makes you happy.