Grilled Prawns with Garlic, Butter & Dalandan


My sukis at the Nasugbu market practically screech with glee whenever they spot me coming into the seafood section early on a Saturday morning. “Here comes that tall fleece-able tourist from Manila!” is likely what they are thinking to themselves. Show him prawn2some live prawns, prepare your biggest alimango, thrust those talakitoks still gasping for air (isn’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, it’s fine with me…

So last weekend when one of my sukis showed me these enormous and still live prawns I couldn’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) prawn5and 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 them… 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. prawn3But I can’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. It’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 prawns…I am waiting for an attack of gout as I type this…


29 Responses

  1. Unfair! I only have McDonalds to look forward to. But I do miss buttered and grilled prawns, we tend to make them into sinigang at home. Ill try this one too.

  2. MarketMan, I’m having trouble getting through via your contact page, but would you be interested in taking a look at a cookbook called Memories of Philippine KItchens by Amy Besa of Cendrillon, NYC? I did the photography and have a prerelease copy of the book. Thanks, Neal

  3. Hi Neal, I will email you separately. I have been having problems with my contacts page since I upgraded the site last week… Yes, I have heard a lot about the book, and I think Amy has come onto this site as well… previously. I’d love to have a look at the pre-release and frankly, if its something Market Manila’s readers would be interested in, I’d be happy to feature it… I also liked your photos for Karla Delgado’s book on markets…

  4. If I join you on this feast, I would just have three prawns so that we can leave some for your wife, your kid and other lucky guests. Do you have ice cold beer to wash this buttery crustaceans down?
    the we could start a conversation with questions such as:

    “So MarketMan, you are prawn to gout eh”?

  5. A friend brought tiger prawns from somewhere in Mindanao to a bbq, they were humongous but the price per kilo was P750. Now that I know it doesn’t cost that much for good prawns, I won’t order for xmas from her source after all. We also did the garlic butter marinade for those too, very tasty and finger licking good.

  6. Prawn to Gout, lol, I like that and it’s true. Is there a way of enjoying fine food and not get high cholesterol, gout and diabetes? I guess, MM, gets away with it by doing lots of exercise. So, tease and torment us some more our dear friend…and hope to see you soon in St. Peter’s abode!

    I have stayed away from prawn for years because of high cholesterol but your presentation is so tempting….deng you MM you are beginning to be a devil in disguise…just a joke my friend…I could still resist since the price of prawn that big is steep…a lame excuse but true.

  7. Great post! Mang MarketMan, me thinks you’re just being nice and generous to your sukis. In turn they reward you with their best stuff. As for the barats, your sukis give them the dregs.

  8. Hey Neal, I want a copy too! Ha ha. Those prawns look mighty tasty indeed. I better indulge before I get gout because I think I am “prawn to gout”. That was funny, Lee.

  9. MM,

    I do wish you could adopt me. I love prawns and shrimp! We recently had the Janghowon Peach Festival and we got to eat at the local restaurant tents by the riverside. There is one which specializes in grilled seafood and shellfish. It’s a point and grill thing. You point out the shellfish you want, they’ll load up a small basket and you get to grill it on your table that has a hole in the middle (where the live charcoal is placed). We always get shrimp and scallops. It’s about 1,000 pesos for a tray of shrimp (20 pieces) and 1,000 pesos for about 12 scallops. I know it is heart-attack inducing prices but hey, we only do it once a year.

  10. Im salivating and drooling just seeing those photos…

    Kinda remembered how I was fleeced the last time I had a similar tiger-prawn dish in the foodie-makan-wonderland that is Sing-gah-poh…

  11. ajienaissant, just found out from my son that places like McDo adds cement in their beef patties. Higher end restaurants like Baja’s are pretty safe.

  12. haay. . . if only prawns are not that expensive. . . last time, i grilled prawns with a mango cilantro with chili garlic sauce marinade. . . really delicious

  13. MM, I am looking forward to your post featuring Amy Besa’s book. Your prawns are so photogenic, nakakalaway!

    To Neal, I have bookmarked your page to keep track of the release date, I am a cookbook hoarder, even bought the unbelievably awful Reynaldo Alejandro cookbook.

    And to Lee, you are one punny guy, I always enjoy reading your comments.

  14. Am going to try your recipe and grlling technique Marketman. But where do i find italian parsley? Or other herbs for that matter? Thanks!

  15. Looks yummy. Nakakainggit ka naman MM, you are enjoying those live prawns. Mine? Frozen from the market. Have you seen the show Take Home Chef ? An Australian chef who ambush shopper and offer to cook, pay the grocery, not bad deal. I wish you do that and cook me that yummy grilled prawns. I’m dreaming.

  16. cindy, I have several posts on where to buy herbs, check the archives, most recently I featured Zacky’s which has Italian Parsley… Nila, no, I haven’t seen the “Take Home Chef” – sounds interesting. manilastreetwalker, you are right, the Singaporeans nail you with a PER GRAM price then when they cook it WHAM! you get nailed with something wicked pricey!

  17. sarap naman.. i miss prawns coz their prices are soo high.. but it’s ok naman to splurge once in a while.. wish i can also find fresh prawns at the market i go to.. lahat dun frozen na.. if only there’s smella-internet so we can at least smell it..looks soo delisyoso…

  18. Prawns (actually, any crustacean) are my favorite! Call me ignorant, but I had no idea they were so high in cholesterol and caused gout! And here I thought they were healthy choices because they’re seafood. Are you sure it isn’t *good* cholesterol they’re full of? Are they at least better than red meat? You see, crustaceans are probably the only things I love to eat that I (had) thought were good for me…but after reading all the comments here, I now know that my entire diet puts my health at risk. :-(

  19. From a South Park episode:

    There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.

    Nevertheless, here goes: Is Italian parsley the same as flat leaf parsley?

  20. Ria, no stupid questions is right, I completely abide by that. And yes, flat leaf parsley is Italian parsley and vice versa. Sorry for the confusion. Katrina, shellfish is better than meat. Generally I think the cholesterol is in particular parts like the crab roe or the corral of lobsters. The cholesterol doesn’t cause the gout… it’s the uric acid I think. Generally, I would guess that all seafood is probably better than most or all things that have four legs…

  21. MM: I envy you guys in the Philippines because you got the freshest seafood and enjoy to eat them and best of all cheap. Here in Vegas everything is frozen and not fresh at all, expensive pa. I miss those jumping shirmp.

  22. hi marketman, i would like to know how much a live crab costs? and the lobsters also? thanks a lot.

  23. wenchie, live crabs can cost anywhere from PHP250 to 500 per kilo, depending on where it is from, male or female, large or small, one claw or two, freshness, etc. Lobsters cost anywhere from PHP600-1300 per kilo depending on whether they are rock or mud, alive or not, etc. It’s best if you go to Seaside market and check there if you intend to start this as a business (as I gather from your other comment in another section of this blog).



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