Prawns with a Bisque and Tomato Fregola
Fregola is a semolina-based pasta from Sardinia that looks a lot like couscous. Here, it adds texture to a classical bisque and makes the dish a little more substantial.
- 500g raw tiger prawns, in their shells
- 120ml olive oil
- 2 banana shallots, diced
- 6 plum tomatoes, diced
- ½ fennel bulb, diced
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, needles picked
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 100ml white wine
- 1 litre tomato juice
- 1 litre good-quality fish stock
- 500g fregola
- 50-100g crème fraîche
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ bunch of tarragon, leaves chopped
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Peel the prawns from their shells and remove the heads. Set the heads and the shells aside to be used later. Using a small knife, cut along the back of each prawn, then gently pull away the dark veins and discard. Put the prepared prawns in the fridge.
Heat a large, deep stockpot or heavy-based, deep-sided saucepan over high heat and add 100ml of the olive oil, the reserved prawn heads and the shells. Generously season with salt and pepper then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring every now and then, until lightly roasted. They'll turn from grey to a glorious orange colour. Add the shallots, tomatoes, fennel, rosemary, garlic, coriander seeds and fennel seeds and cook for a further 5-6 minutes until the vegetables are starting to caramelise. Once the vegetables have started to colour, stir through the tomato purée and tomato ketchup and cook for a further 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, bring to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour until reduced by half, then pour in the tomato juice and fish stock and bring to the boil before reducing the heat to a simmer and covering the pan with a lid. Simmer the bisque for 30 minutes.
Remove the bisque from the heat and allow to cool slightly, with the lid off, for 20-30 minutes.
Ladle around a quarter of the bisque into a high-powered blender or Thermomix and blitz for 30 seconds to break up the shells. Pass the bisque through a fine sieve into a clean pan, using the back of the ladle to press through as much liquid as possible and leaving behind the thick paste of blitzed shells and vegetables. Repeat these steps for the remaining bisque.
Discard any thick paste that remains in the sieve and season the bisque to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
Place the fregola in a large casserole dish then pour over the seasoned bisque. Cover with foil or a tight-fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
Remove the prepared prawns from the fridge, season and dress with the remaining olive oil.
Remove the casserole dish from the oven, remove the foil or lid and stir in crème fraîche to taste (this will tone down the richness of the bisque and thicken it a little) then arrange the dressed prawns over the surface of the baked fregola. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, to allow the prawns to roast. Remove from the oven once the prawns are cooked through and the fregola has absorbed most of the bisque. Sprinkle over the chopped tarragon and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Find more recipes like this in Marcus' Kitchen, by Marcus Wareing.