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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the Week: Prawn & Lychee Kebabs and Planked Caraway-Encrusted Monkfish

Jun 27, 2014

Prosciutto-Wrapped Prawn and Lychee Kebabs

Makes 4 main course servings, or 12 appetizer-sized servings

This combo might sound strange, but the sweetness of the lychees and the prawns and the saltiness of the prosciutto complement one another very nicely, and the lychee liqueur gives the kebabs a superb aroma. This is ideal as a cocktail party appetizer, but also goes well with rice and a green salad as a main course. (Note: Wrapping prawns with thin slices of prosciutto is pretty fussy. If you’re in a hurry, this dish tastes great even without this embellishment.)

12 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
1 20 oz | 565 g can lychees in syrup
2 oz | 57 mL Soho lychee liqueur
(mainly used in fancy lychee martinis)
1 tsp | 5 mL crushed dried red chile flakes
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup | 175 mL coconut milk
1/4 cup | 50 mL sunflower oil or other neutral-flavored oil
24 large fresh prawns (13 to 15 to the pound | .45 kg),
peeled and deveined, with the tails still on
12 thin slices Italian prosciutto, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp | 15 mL cornstarch
1/2 cup | 50 mL cold water
2 Tbsp | 25 mL fresh mint, finely chopped
limes, for squeezing

Drain the canned lychees, setting aside 12 lychees and 3/4 cup | 175 mL of the syrup. Combine the lychees and syrup with the liqueur, dried chiles, shallot, ginger, coconut milk, and oil. Gently toss the prawns in the mixture in a medium bowl and marinate them for 1 hour at room temperature or 3 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the prawns and the fruit from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Wrap each prawn with half a slice of the prosciutto, as if you are putting a little belt around the middle of the prawn, taking care that about half of the prawn is still visible. Thread the prosciutto-wrapped prawns onto presoaked bamboo skewers, placing a lychee after every second prawn. (For cocktail party canapés, thread 1 lychee and two prawns on each skewer.)
            Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. While the grill is heating, pour the reserved marinade into a medium saucepan and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat. Mix the cornstarch with the water and pour it into the liquid. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is shiny and thick. Set it aside.
            Oil the cooking grate, place the skewers on the grill, cover them and cook them for no more than 1 or 2 minutes per side, or until the prawns are barely cooked through. Serve the kebabs drizzled with the sauce and garnished with chopped mint and a squeeze of lime.

Planked Caraway-crusted Monkfish with Tomato and Green Onion Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Monkfish is often referred to as the poor man’s lobster because it has very firm, rich, flavorful white flesh. The fillet looks kind of like a pork tenderloin, and it cooks up very nicely on a plank. The tomato and green onion sauce nicely offsets the strong flavor of the caraway-crusted fish.

For the fish:
1 1/2 Tbsp |  22.5 mL caraway seeds
1 lb | 500 g skinless monkfish fillet
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp | 30 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
pinch cayenne
granulated onion

For the sauce:
¼ cup | 60 mL mayonnaise
1 ripe fresh tomato, chopped into a ¼ inch | 6 mm dice
3 stalks fresh green onion, finely chopped, 1 Tbsp | 15 mL reserved for garnish
1 Tbsp | 15 mL finely chopped parsley
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
pinch cayenne
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt

Lightly toast the caraway seeds in a dry sauté pan, transfer the caraway to a plate to cool, and set it aside.
            Season the fillet with salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, minced garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl and coat the fillet with the mixture. Sprinkle all but ½ Tbsp | 7.5 mL of the caraway seeds evenly over the fillet. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
            To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Set the sauce aside.
            Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium.
            Place the fish on the plank and cook it for 15–20 minutes, turning it halfway through the cooking time, until the fish is springy to the touch or has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C.
            Cut the fish into medallions and serve it with a dollop of the sauce, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Garnish it with the reserved seeds and the  green onions.

Photo copyright John Sinal Photography, used with permission.