Spot Prawns with Citrus and Harissa

Gauguin prepares this recipe with spot prawns (a kind of large shrimp) because of their sweet, almost lobster-like flavor and because the seasonal harvest is limited and sustainable, thus allowing for the health of the species. But if you can't find spot prawns, feel free to substitute a different variety of shrimp (just be sure to check with your seafood supplier to learn which varieties are deemed the "Best Choice"  the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program). We peel the shrimp before cooking but leave the tails intact for eye appeal and added flavor.

Harissa is a spicy North African condiment made from roasted hot chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway, and other spices. Tubes or jars of this paste can be found in most supermarkets in the United States, but if you can't locate it, feel free to substitute another hot chili sauce such as sriracha (to which you could add cumin, coriander, and caraway to make for an even better substitute). If you are sensitive to spicy food, use only half the amount of harissa specified, then taste and add more if needed.

This dish is best served with steamed basmati or jasmine rice, and would pair nicely with a crisp green salad.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved, then thinly sliced (about 1 pound)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1 pound raw spot prawns or other shrimp, peeled (with tails intact)
  • 2 seedless oranges, peeled and white pith removed, then cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, then add onions and sauté until they soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions start to brown.

  2. Pour in the lemon and orange juices and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Then add the butter and harissa and toss to incorporate.

  3. Once the butter has melted, add the prawns/shrimp and sauté until they turn from white to pink. Add the orange chunks and toss just long enough for them to heat through.

  4. Season with salt and pepper, and serve garnished with the chopped cilantro.