Sometimes all a dish needs to make it pop, come alive and generally look a little more special than the normal is some flavoured butter. These are easily whipped up by mashing herbs, spices or citrus into softened butter, then chilling the butter again, but they seem very exotic, the sort of thing that should sit on its own little plate, with a tiny silver knife, on a white tablecloth in a posh restaurant. Melted over food they add flavour, fat and all round awesomeness, bringing the dry and mundane into the world of the moist and fun immediately. Plus they last a very long time in the fridge, always a bonus.
Prawns with orange saffron butter
From Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume
This recipe was supposed to be served with a swede and tahini mash, which sounded great. Lacking swede I decided to substitute carrots, and thought my beautiful purple carrots would be just the thing. Alas, after boiling the water was a vivid indigo and my carrots had turned a sort of murky brown colour, and still didn’t mash properly. I think I might just stick with swede next time.
1 tablespoon gin
4 threads saffron
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon ground garlic powder
250g king prawns, shelled and deveined
1. In a small bowl stir the saffron threads into the gin and leave to infuse for 3 minutes. Add the orange juice and zest, then stir in the sumac, cumin, chives and garlic powder. Beat in the softened butter; it will separate out, and then, when it is well mixed, come back together again. There may be a little liquid left in the bottom of the bowl; this is fine. Take the flavoured butter out of the bowl, plop it onto a piece of clingfilm, and roll it into a log. Twist the ends tightly closed and refrigerate for 3 hours, or freeze for an hour.
2. Heat a frying pan and add about a quarter of the butter. When it starts to sizzle, add the prawns. Toss to coat in the butter and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add another quarter of the butter to the pan, allow it just to melt, and then serve the prawns, with the remaining chilled orange butter on the side. Serve with green leaves and swede and tahini mash.
Serves 2. I served this with a lovely Traminer from Bulgaria. Research suggests this could either be a Savagnin, or Gewürtztraminer. Alas, my Bulgarian isn’t good enough to permit me to discover which, and even if I could read all of the bottle, I suspect it still wouldn’t tell me. Either way, the fruity and strong floral notes matched the orange and saffron very nicely.