by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Spot Prawns with Fig Compote

The fig is not native to North America but it sure likes it here. These wonderful plants grow and produce a crop almost anywhere. Figs are an unusual plant as the warmer the climate the more waves of crops they will produce. In a warm and dry climate you can get 3 or as many as 4. In the more northerly climates it will still produce 1 or even 2.The darker colored figs tend to fit best in this recipe, such as Brown Turkey or Mission varieties. The sweet and tart fig compote pairs quite well with the savory prawn.

1 lb large prawns

5-7 fresh figs

1 small shallot minced

2 Tbsps butter (divided)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp honey

Fresh basil


Have a large and small skillet ready. Begin by heating a small skillet to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp butter. Add shallot and allow to cook until well caramelized, which will take about 7-10 minutes total. Lower heat if it cooks too hot, you want the shallot to break down and brown very gradually. Meanwhile remove stems from figs and chop into small cubes.

When shallot is well browned and broken down add figs to pan and toss with the shallot. Add lemon juice and allow to simmer very gently.  The fig sauce will take about 10 minutes as well and should have the consistency of jam when it’s ready.

Move pan off heat, add honey and stir. Next bring a large skillet to med-high, and add I Tbsp butter. When the butter begins to sizzle add prawns and sprinkle with salt. Unlike the sauce, we want to cook the prawns hot and fast. Cook on first side for about 2-3 minutes, flip and begin to cook on the other side.

After shrimp have cooked on second side for a couple minutes, begin to shake the pan frequently as the shrimp finish cooking. Plate shrimp directly and cover with fig sauce. Place basil leaves on top of each other into a stack and thinly slice the leaves into ribbons. Sprinkle on shrimp to garnish, then serve.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Caramelization, or the Maillard Reaction? There are two phenomenons that take place in the browning of food. Caramelization happens more slowly and it is simply the breakdown of the larger carbohydrate structures into smaller ones. Basically, the food tastes sweeter because there is more surface area and therefore more sugar exposed. Think: a slowly cooking onion. The Maillard Reaction is a reaction that occurs when amino acids react with the sugar in the cooking food. Think: the brown crust on the outside of a bbq-ing steak.




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