For people who care about their food

Prawns in garlic butter

A guest blog by Michael of

To a biologist, prawns and shrimps are crustaceans of different species. For a start, shrimps (caridea) brood their eggs and prawns (dendrobranchiata) release them directly into the water.

People who eat or cook them take no notice of such details. The British tend to call the little ones “shrimps” and the big ones “prawns”, whereas Americans call them all “shrimps”.

I like the ones that are big enough to be worth picking up one at a time, but small enough to trap lots of juice – tails about the size of my little finger.



If I can get them raw (grey), so much the better, but I’ll accept pre-boiled (pink) ones.

Prawns in garlic butterIngredients

  • About 200 grams of prawns per person
  • Plenty of butter
  • A bit of oil if prawns are large
  • Plenty of fresh garlic
  • Sea salt (flakes or in a grinder)


1. Pull off the heads and slit the tails down the back. Forget de-veining, we’re just increasing the capacity for the prawns to absorb butter.

2. Do whatever you prefer with the garlic. Squeeze it through a press, smash it under the blade of a knife, cut it into slices…

3. Heat the butter and/or oil in a pan until it smokes. The goal is to get the legs and at least some of the body shell so crisp that you don’t need to peel the prawn. Bigger ones may need the higher temperature of oil in the first stage of cooking.

4. Add garlic and prawns. Turn the prawns until the shells start to brown.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Serve tails a few at a time, keeping the rest warm in the pan until you’ve finished the first batch.

6. Salt to taste. With salted butter you may not need any extra salt.

You may like to add a slice of lemon – nibble it, rind and all, rather than squeezing it over the prawns.

Give the heads to the cats or dogs. Alternatively, cook the prawns with their heads on, then pull them off and suck the juices out yourself.

No, this meal won’t help lower your cholesterol levels, but that’s no reason to miss out on the treat. Just don’t eat it every other day, and go for a brisk walk more regularly (or use the office stairs instead of the lift).

4 Responses to “Prawns in garlic butter”

  1. Not Delia

    Thanks for the post, Michael. The prawns look nice but I don’t agree about not de-veining them. Urgh! Who wants to eat prawn poo? And that’s what the black intestinal thread contains.

    What a waste to give the heads to the animals. They’re ideal for making a tasty stock for a prawn bisque or other prawn-based soup.

  2. Michael

    Do you eat whitebait, or unfilleted anchovies? To be fair, I think most of the prawns I use don’t seem to have any vein – have they been starved in a tank, like shellfish? I took a couple of photos when I cooked prawns yesterday, and only one had any vein. I’ll upload them later and give you a link.

    I agree that prawn (or fish) heads make good stock, but I only had 10 and wasn’t planning to make soup. I suppose I could still have frozen it and topped it up next time I cooked, though.

  3. Not Delia

    Sorry, no, I don’t eat any whole fish even if they are tiny. Eating guts and eyeballs etc has never had any appeal for me. It’s possible that the prawns you had were detoxified and cleansed, in a similar way as one does with live snails. It’s not difficult to remove the waste matter from their bodies so I always prefer to do it.

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