This cooking method may be unfamiliar to you, but it is ridiculously easy and really tasty. As the salt layer in the pan bottom gets hot, its radiant heat "bakes" the prawns and their juices mingle with the salt and its infused garlic flavor. The result is juicy, salty deliciousness, here made all the better with an accompaniment of pungent, rich aioli.
Alioli- This is the Spanish preparation of aioli, made with eggs yolks and olive oil. The French version uses whole eggs and lighter oil and is therefore not as intensely flavored.
Because the alioli has no acid in it to denature the egg's protein, you need to whip air into it in order for the oil molecules to bond with the protein molecules. For this reason, it is best to use a stand mixer. —Cathal Armstrong
Salt Baked Dublin Bay Prawns
Cloves Garlic, Peeled
Whole Dublin Bay Prawns, langoustines or head on shrimp
Cook the prawns: Spread the salt in the bottom of a 17-inch paella pan or slope sided saute pan and do it with the garlic cloves.
Let the salt hear over high heat for 3 minutes
Lay the prawns on top of the salt in an even layer.
Cook them for 15 minutes, turning them over halfway through, until they are deep orange.
To test for doneness, pull the body and head apart on one. The flesh should be while all the way through.
To serve: Serve the prawns family style by placing the pan right on the table with a crock of aioli on the side. Pull the heads off and suck the juices out of them (delicious!), before discarding them, then peel the bodies and dip the meat in aioli.
Place the egg yolks, garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; best on high speed for 10 minutes, until the yolks have doubled in volume and are pale white.
Add half of the oil in a thin stream, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water.
Stream in the rest of the oil; the alioli will be yellow and very thick.
Season with more salt if you wish.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days.
Reprinted with permission from My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn, copyright (c) 2014.Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Photography (c) 2014 by Scott Suchman
Front cover photograph (c) 2014 by Sang An