Mercurio's summer recipe: Beer-marinated prawns with asparagus

Paul Mercurio

Struth, it’s summer and thank god for that. Time to light the barbie, reach for a coldie and just enjoy the summer rays and the holidays, if you are lucky enough to have them.

This is a great summer dish as it encompasses all that we love about summer – prawns on the barbie, fresh local asparagus and of course, beer.

You can prep and marinate the prawns in the cool of the morning – and although this recipe makes for the perfect finger food, if you add a salad or two and some hand cut chips you have a great summer evening meal.

When the high heat of the afternoon starts to wane you light the barbie, chuck the prawns on and make some salads. By the time the sting has gone out of the sun you can be sitting around the table enjoying a perfect summer evening’s feed.

As for the best beer to use in the marinade, I like to use a hop-driven beer that lends lots of fruity character to the marinade, such as Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, Mornington Pale Ale or Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale. You could also make this with a Hefeweizen that shows characteristics of clove and banana, or a Belgian Wit that has coriander and orange characters.

Beer Marinated Prawns with crisp Asparagus Spears

1 Kilo shelled prawns – medium to large size
5 large cloves of garlic mashed with teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of olive
2/3 cup of beer – a good hoppy American Pale Ale style
¼ cup fresh lime juice
3 shallots finely chopped
2 teaspoons each of coriander and cumin seeds, toasted and then crushed
½ cup of fresh coriander coarsely chopped
1 thinly sliced red chilli
Splash of soy to taste
Fresh asparagus spears one per prawn

Beer marinated prawns with crisp asparagus spears

Roughly chop the garlic on a cutting board and then sprinkle the salt over. Using the flat of a large kitchen knife mash the garlic and salt together until the garlic breaks down into the salt and it all becomes a bit of a paste like consistency. Rub prawns with garlic and salt mixture and let stand for an hour.

In a small fry pan over high heat add the coriander and cumin seeds and dry toast moving the seeds around so they don’t burn until they start to smoke. Put the seeds into a mortar and using a pestle crush the seeds. Combine the olive oil, lime juice, beer, ground spices, spring onions, chili, soy sauce and coriander in a large bowl and add prawns, coat thoroughly and marinate for an hour or so.

Break the thick ends of the asparagus spears and discard. Using a sharp knife cut the bottom end of the asparagus on an angle so that it looks like it has a sharp end.

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Using a small sharp knife make two incisions or holes in each prawn – one hole through the tail end and one at the head end taking care not to slice open the prawn. When you make these holes, hold the prawn in one hand so it is like a “U”, with the tail being the right side of the “U” and the head being the left. Assuming you are right handed – Using a small sharp knife with the blade facing down pierce through the right hand side of the tail end through to the left side cutting the hole just big enough so the asparagus can be pushed through. Turn the prawn around so the head is now on the right side of the ‘U’ and with the blade facing down pierce the prawn to create a hole. The reason the blade is facing down is so you do not accidently cut up through the tail or head and open it up thereby leaving no hole. Push one spear of asparagus through the tail hole and then head end hole so the prawn sits in the middle of the spear length.

Return speared prawns to marinade until ready to cook.

Char grill on BBQ until the prawns are cooked basting with the marinade towards the end to caramelize them a little.

Makes around 45.

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