Gratin of Tiger Prawns with Chilli and Cheese

This is kind of Mexican but works best, we think, with Italian Fontina cheese, as this has the best melting consistency. Fat, juicy tiger prawns combined with cream and the melting cheese, and the added piquancy of lime and chilli, make this one of my favourite starters. Using bigger dishes, it would also make a splendid lunch dish for two, together with salad and some good bread.

Serves 4 as a starter

This recipe first appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine.

Gratin of Tiger Prawns with Chilli and Cheese
 7 oz (200 g) frozen raw tiger prawns, shells on
 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
 3 oz (75 g) Fontina, grated
 juice 1 lime
 a few drops of Tabasco sauce
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 2 small red onions, peeled and finely sliced
 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
 10 fl oz (275 ml) double cream
 salt and freshly milled black pepper

You will also need four 5 inch (13 cm) base measurement round gratin dishes, lightly buttered.


You need to deal with the prawns in advance by rinsing them, then leaving them in a colander set over a bowl for about an hour to defrost.

After that, peel off the shells and then, using the point of a sharp knife, make a tiny slit all along the back of each prawn and remove any black thread. Now place the prawns in a bowl, sprinkle in the lime juice and Tabasco, toss them around and leave them to marinate for about 15 minutes. At this point turn the grill on to its highest setting.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly cook the onions for about 3 minutes before adding the garlic and the chillies, and continue to cook these for another 2-3 minutes. After that, divide the onion mixture between the 4 dishes, then drain the prawns and divide these equally, too.

Next, give everything a good seasoning of salt and freshly milled black pepper, then pour the cream over, followed by the cheese scattered on top. Now put the dishes on a baking sheet and place under the grill about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat. Grill for 5-6 minutes, until the prawns turn pink and the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

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