My sukis at the Nasugbu market practically screech with glee whenever they spot me coming into the seafood section early on a Saturday morning. â€œHere comes that tall fleece-able tourist from Manila!â€ is likely what they are thinking to themselves. Show him some live prawns, prepare your biggest alimango, thrust those talakitoks still gasping for air (isnâ€™t it weird that they gasp for air when they are out of the water?) into his line of vision and you will make your first sale and to a male at that (good luck daw to have a bueno mano buyer that is a guy). For some reason, I go along with this silliness, and I know I am getting fleeced, but I am just so happy to be there that paying an extra PHP10-20 per kilo is simply the cost of my not speaking Filipino as fluently as I should and acting like a hardass all of the time. This is my contribution to the trickle down theory of economics, itâ€™s fine with meâ€¦
So last weekend when one of my sukis showed me these enormous and still live prawns I couldnâ€™t resist. They were so fresh they would leap a good 2-3 feet away if she left the pile of prawns uncovered. I paid PHP420 a kilo (15 pieces, or roughly 70 grams each) and while pricey, they run upwards of PHP550+ in Manila markets. I decided to do a variation on a classic lobster or prawns thermidor but on a grill. First make the butter and garlic mixture. If there is one thing I dislike, it is biting into uncooked or raw garlic. And when you do this recipe grilled, it only takes 4-5 minutes to cook so the chances of having raw bits of garlic are high. So I first chopped up several large cloves of garlic, put it in a saucepan with some butter and cooked it over low heat for 4-5 minutes to remove that raw edge. I let that cool a bit, added more cold butter, chopped Italian parsley, some freshly squeezed dalandan juice (you can concentrate this separately by boiling it down to reduce it and concentrate the flavor if desired), salt and cracked black pepper. Mash this up and it should be like soft butter. If it is too soft, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes.
Next, clean up your prawns and slit them down their backs. Stuff them with generous amounts of the butter and garlic mixture and stand them on their legs. There are two schools of thought on how to grill themâ€¦ one says you will simply lose all of the butter to the fire, in turn igniting everything and charring the prawns so you should stick them in a foil pan and place that on the barbecue and you will save all the great buttery juices. But I canâ€™t be bothered with that, I opt for the high wire grilling method of standing the prawns on the grill with butter facing up and cover for two minutes then quickly put them on one side and then the other. Itâ€™s a bit crazy but I still get the grilled and smoky effect and flavor, retain enough of the buttery garlic sauce and have the tenderest meat to boot. Serve with wedges of dalandan or lemon. The dalandan is smoother and a bit sweeter; less acidic than the lemon. Either way you cook it, it will be delicious. I ate 5 humongous prawnsâ€¦I am waiting for an attack of gout as I type thisâ€¦