This recipe is part of my 1960s revival menu. In those days it used to be something simple but really luscious, yet over the years it has suffered from some very poor adaptations, not least watery prawns and inferior sauces. So here, in all its former glory, is a starter quite definitely for the new millennium!
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.
2 lb (900 g) large prawns in their shells (see recipe)
1 crisp-hearted lettuce, such as Cos
1 oz (25 g) rocket leaves
1 ripe but firm avocado
1 whole lime, divided into 6 wedge-shaped sections
For the sauce:
1 quantity of mayonnaise (see Related Recipe link below)
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
a few drops Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (preferably organic)
1 dessertspoon lime juice
The very best version of this is made with prawns (either fresh or frozen in their shells) that you have cooked yourself. Failing that, buy the large cooked prawns in their shells, or if you can only get shelled prawns cut the amount to 1 lb (450 g).
To prepare them: if frozen put them in a colander and allow to defrost thoroughly at room temperature for about 1 hour. After that, if using uncooked prawns, heat a large solid frying pan or wok and dry-fry the prawns for 4-5 minutes until the grey turns a vibrant pink. As soon as they're cool, reserve 6 in their shells for a garnish and peel the remainder.
Then take a small sharp knife, make a cut along the back of each peeled prawn and remove any black thread. Place them in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed.
To make the cocktail sauce, prepare the mayonnaise and add it to the rest of the sauce ingredients. Stir and taste to check the seasoning, then keep the sauce covered with clingfilm in the fridge until needed.
When you are ready to serve, shred the lettuce and rocket fairly finely and divide them between 6 stemmed glasses, then peel and chop the avocado into small dice and scatter this in each glass amongst the lettuce.
Top with the prawns and the sauce, sprinkle a dusting of cayenne pepper on top and garnish with 1 section of lime and 1 unpeeled prawn per glass.