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Date night treat: Dublin Bay Prawns with Garlic Butter/Béarnaise Sauce

by Eoin Higgins
17th Sep 2020

Irish hospitality legend Maura O’Connell Foley, shares accessible and delicious Irish recipes from her swish new cookbook, My Wild Atlantic Kitchen – Recipes & Recollections.

“North Atlantic prawns (also known as langoustines or Dublin Bay prawns) are deliciously succulent, but the real attraction is in their sweetness. Cold water fish and shellfish have a magical sweetness that you simply don’t get from warm water species. You can serve these on a large platter for a family, or allowing 3-4 per person as a starter and about 6-8 per person for a main course, depending on the size of the prawns. As always, the quality of the prawn is the magic ingredient, so do your best to source the best available.”

Fresh Dublin Bay Prawns are available, via nationwide delivery, from eatmorefish.ie, and other sources. A fresh, white wine is the perfect accompaniment, Chablis ideally, but any good Muscadet, Maçon and Santenay will also work.

[Serves 8-9 as a starter or 4-5 as a main, depending on size]


What you need:

• 2kg fresh Atlantic prawns (approx 19-20 whole prawns per kg)
• 300g garlic butter, OR 250ml béarnaise sauce to serve


Garlic Butter
• 300g good quality salted butter, at room temperature, cubed
• 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


Béarnaise Sauce
Egg Base
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 tbsp cold water
• 225g butter

Tarragon reduction
• 30g butter
• 75g finely diced shallots (around 3 shallots, but will depend on size)
• 2 whole peppercorns, crushed in a pestle and mortar
• 150ml tarragon vinegar
• 75ml water
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon



1. Preheat the oven to fan 200°C / fan 400°F / gas mark 7.

2. Wash and clean the prawns with a brush under cold running water. Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of sea salt to the boil, making sure there is enough water to fully immerse the prawns.
3. Plunge the prawns into the boiling water and put on a timer for three minutes, leaving the prawns in the pot over the heat. Remove from the stove and drain – the liquid can be reserved and used for preparing stock if not too salty.

4. To make the garlic butter, add the butter, garlic and parsley to a food processor and blend until combined. Store in an airtight container and keep for up to one week in the fridge. When using, allow the butter to come to room temperature.

5. To make the Béarnaise sauce, in a small saucepan, melt the butter until it starts to bubble, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile, place the water and yolks in a food processor and blend until pale and fluffy. Very gradually start to pour the hot foaming butter via the funnel into the processor, keeping the motor running, until it starts to emulsify. You can then add the remaining butter more swiftly while still hot.

6. To make the tarragon reduction, melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots and pepper. Cover and sweat for 10 minutes or until soft but not coloured, stirring occasionally. Add the tarragon vinegar and reduce for 5-8 minutes or until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Add the water and boil to reduce by two thirds. I prefer not to strain the sauce, but I do remove any large chunky peppercorn pieces. Stir the reduction into the egg base and stir in the chopped fresh tarragon. Cover with a lid. If not serving immediately, place the saucepan over another saucepan of hot water to keep warm until serving.

6. When the prawns are cool enough to handle, ensure you keep the head intact, remove the fan at the end of tail and pull out the intestine. Split the tail of the prawn and dot
the flesh with garlic butter or béarnaise.

7. Roast in the hot oven for two minutes and serve immediately.


Read more: Treat yourself to an inspiring cookbook from a legend of Irish hospitality

Read more: 5 of the best artisan food delivery services in Ireland

Read more: Want to start growing your own food this weekend? The experts tell you how

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