Monday, 21 March 2011

Smoked Crevettes, Sauteed Potatoes and Sharp Salad

Yet again I sing the praises of the market fishmonger, who smokes his own crevettes and sells them at five for £2. These are fat fingers of prawny goodness, and five is plenty for me. I needed something fairly quick to prepare tonight as I got back a little late after helping friends to make a giant papier-mache fish. I also had a huge craving for sauteed potatoes, which conveniently are much much faster to prepare for one person than two.

Here I offset the smoky fattiness of the prawns with sweet sauteed potatoes, and balance those against a sharp, peppery salad with a lemon-mayonnaise dressing. The combination of flavours is exquisite: one of those meals where you move rapidly from one side of the plate to another, trying the combinations and enjoying the contrast of flavours.


  • 1 medium potato
  • Five fat smoked crevettes, or 150g smoked trout
  • a generous handful of watercress
  • a small handful of fluffy lettuce
  • a few leaves of fresh basil
  • a handful of spinach or chard
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 tsp capers
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

If you have time, you can very gently boil the whole potato for 15 minutes, then allow to completely cool and slice. I was in a hurry, and find that it's much faster just to slice the raw potato into thick (~8mm) slices, layer at the bottom of a small saucepan, and just cover with water. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the surface barely begins to give.

Meanwhile, if you like, shell the crevettes; I like to leave just the tail ends on to hold them by, preserving a little, but not all, of the messy fun of eating seafood and salad together. Roughly chop the leaves and combine in a bowl or on your plate. Slice the tomato across and in halves so that the seeds stay in. Put the rest of the ingredients in a jar, grind over a good amount of black pepper, and shake to emulsify. Taste; it should be sharp and punchy.

When the potato slices are done, drain and cover again with cold water, leave for a minute and then drain, to bring their temperatures down a little. Leaving them in the cold water is fine, but be very careful when you fry them, as the water will cause the oil to spit. Speaking of which, heat a heavy-based frying pan (not necessarily non-stick, but it helps) over a moderate heat and add a few tbsp of olive oil. When it is shimmering and fragrant, carefully add a few slices of potato. If you can fry them all at once, fine, but if you're going to need to split into batches, then you might as well split them evenly between batches, and make your life less complicated!

Fry for 2-3 minutes each side, until dark golden brown. Scatter with salt while still hot and sheened in oil. When done, arrange around the salad and drizzle this with the dressing. Serve immediately - and don't burn your tongue on the amazing potatoes :)

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