I created this dish on Food Network's The Julia Child Challenge as the meal that changed my life.
If you tuned in to this week's episode of Food Network's The Julia Child Challenge, you may have noticed me on your television screen! I was selected as a contestant for this series, in which eight talented home cooks and Julia Child super fans, including yours truly, compete in high stakes cooking challenges. It was truly magical and stepping foot in to this incredibly detailed and accurate recreation of Julia Child's iconic kitchen. To add to the shock, Julia appeared on a larger than life television screen each day, providing guidance, wisdom, and her legendary tone for making others feel warm and welcome.
What made this week even more wonderful was that we were tasked with creating a meal that changed our lives, just as Sole Meunière changed Julia's. The moment she tasted that dish upon her arrival in France was the very moment she began falling heads over heels in love with French cooking, culture, and lifestyle. Through this dish, Sautéed Prawns, I can relate.
I first experiences these plump, juicy, and insanely flavorful prawns on my first trip to Spain. My husband and I had just become engaged and we were so excited for this adventure. It was my first time going to Europe, and little did I know the food, culture, and way of living would impact my life so deeply moving forward. We had taken the red eye and hit the ground running, high on life and ready to explore Barcelona, the first stop on our trip. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this country over the next few weeks of adventure.
We had done our research, and I knew one of my first stops had to be La Boqueria, a huge market located in the center of Barcelona providing a sensory overload abundance of fresh food and ingredients. I remember walking in and just feeling giddy! Rows upon rows of food booths are lined with bright smoothies, the freshest fruit and vegetables you've ever seen, Jamón Serrano hanging to cure in the fresh air, oysters that were plucked from the sea that morning, squid legs, full goat heads, gigantic pans of paella, pan con tomate being made to order, eggs delivered from the farm that morning, and so much more.
Because we were running on adrenaline and sensory overload, and very little sleep, we decided to sit for a moment and just take this all in. We found a little bar in the center of the market with two seats. We ordered a couple of cold beers and asked the two servers what we should order. They said we needed to have the prawns.
I watched as they made this dish in just a few short minutes, adding these huge meaty prawns, heads and all, to a hot pan with tons of robust olive oil, some garlic and herbs, and a little bit of salt and pepper. That was it. When they placed the dish in front of us and we started digging in, we both just looked at each other and started laughing. That's how good it was. It made us laugh. We were probably also delusionally tired, but we could not have cared less in this moment. It was the type of bite of food that makes you close your eyes ame chew really slowly, savoring it and willing it not to end too quickly. The freshness, flavor, and juiciness was out of this world. With just these few simple, fresh ingredients, this dish shines. I knew instantly that I'd never be the same, and that the food I was about to experience on this trip was going to inspire me forever as a cook.
It was at this little bar in the center of La Boqueria in Barcelona that I began falling head over heels in love with Spanish food, culture, and lifestyle. We ate many, many, many prawns over the course of that trip, and I recreated them in our kitchen back home within days of our return. I have such immense love and respect for this recipe. I'm so glad that I was able to cook it in Julia's kitchen, and I'm so happy that I can share it with you all here, now.
If you're looking for the perfect pan to cook and serve these Sautéed Prawns in, I swear by my Great Jones King Sear pan. The flavors that build and the sear you get on your prawns is absolute perfection. And it's so gorgeous that you can just place it on a trivet or kitchen towel and serve right from the pan.
If you create this mouth watering recipe in your own kitchen, be sure to tag @threebirdsonestove so I can see how you're creating your own memories with this dish! Perhaps it will change your life, as well. Bon appétit, loves!
Watch The Julia Child Challenge, Mondays at 9PM EST, on Food Network and Discovery Plus!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
1 tablespoon salted butter
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 ½-2 pounds jumbo prawns (for shopping purposes, also referred to as colossal shrimp) with heads and shells on, cleaned
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over low medium-heat in a large skillet. Add butter, garlic, and 2 teaspoons each of chopped cilantro and parsley.
Add prawns, 2 tablespoons more olive oil, and another tablespoon each of chopped cilantro and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, pan basting prawns with a spoon 5 minutes into cooking, and then in the last 5 minutes before removing from heat.
When prawns are bright red and smell sweet, they’re ready. Transfer prawns to a serving dish and top with the pan sauce. Garnish with additional parsley and cilantro if desired. Serve warm right in your Great Jones King Sear pan.