Thursday 11 June 2009

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music, Ad Infinitum...

I admit that when I first cooked this dish I realised too late that I was missing two valuable ingredients: spring onions and shell-on raw prawns. I did have peeled prawns, though, but it was not the same. Since then I have made amends and now I can vouch for this recipe's delicious taste. And my favourite bit, besides eating it, of course? The aroma whilst it's cooking. It's just superb. And yes, it's yet another Nigel Slater's recipe. This blog, and this section in particular, is a fervent follower of Nigel Slater. The full description below has been copied and pasted from his regular column in The Observer newspaper, a publication for which he has written for sixteen years.

Prawns with Sichuan peppercorns and spring onions

2 fresh hot red chillies
a tsp Sichuan peppercorns
a large pinch of sugar
2 tsp of finely minced (or very finely chopped) ginger
4 cloves of garlic
6 spring onions
6 tbsp groundnut oil
400g large, shell-on raw prawns

Halve the chillies, scrape out the seeds, chop the flesh finely, and put into a small bowl. Put the peppercorns into a non-stick frying pan and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. Tip them out and grind to a fine powder using a spice mill or a pestle and mortar. Add to the chillies with the sugar, minced ginger and a teaspoon of sea salt.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Trim the spring onions and chop them into fine pieces then add, with the garlic, to the chillies.

Pour the oil into a wok and get it smoking hot. Lower in the prawns and let them cook for a minute, then lift them out with a draining spoon. Add the chilli mixture to the wok and stir it round for a minute or less as it sizzles, so it does not burn.

Return the prawns to the pan, continue cooking for a couple of minutes, then serve immediately and eat while hot and peppery.

The music I selected to go with this dish is also full of aromas. Give me Azam Ali's voice any time. It brings much solace and warmth to my soul, just like this dish.

Cassandra Wilson's take on this Bob Marley's classic is, in my humble opinion, a classic itself.

Frank Black, who is one of the few performers I have heard doing an excellent version of 'Dirty Old Town', regales us a tune that burns your insides in the same way those chillies and ginger seethe on the pan.

And last but not least, a good old tango, because whenever I'm cooking a simple dish as the one above I have simple but deep music on in the background. And Astor Piazzolla is one of those artists who is capable of bringing the full flavour of music to any song he performs, just like spring onions and garlic. Enjoy.

Next post: 'Song for a Summer Sunday Morning' to be published on Sunday 14th June at 10am (GMT)


  1. I don't eat sea roaches, but I'm going to try this recipe with fish. Lovely music tonight, you have introduced me to some new artists I will have to explore further.

  2. "prawn" is a new term for me, but i get the gist.

    i bet the aroma of all that cooking together was just wonderful. gotta love music + food.

  3. Que rico! Con lo que me gusta cocinar comida rica!(no chícharos)...

    Very Nice blog!

  4. Ottimo, oggi é venerdí. Questa mattina mi sono detto:"che tipo di pesce mangi oggi?"
    Bene, adesso lo só;)

    Io quel tipo di pesce lo faccio diversamente. Ma proveró questa tua ricetta!

    Ah, da noi nel sud-Italia accompagniamo questo piatto con dell'insalata di sedano spesso! Se vuoi ti dó qualche volta la ricetta.

    Un saluto da Colonia Cuban,
    Salva :)

  5. those look tasty
    will you cook me some, friend with humility?

  6. Very very tempting, both the music and the food... heck, why should I resist? I think I well might try them.

  7. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

  8. Miam..miam..this is...killing opening food sessions!
    and shit..i'm just making some patatas al pobre today...

  9. I am not an eater of fish or seafood, CiL, so this is one time I will pass on your recipe.

    Your music, on the other hand, once again has been both entertaining and educational for me. You enjoy such a wide breadth of music that I think it is amazing.

    Thank you, sir. It is always a pleasure to visit you.

  10. Everything about this post is a treat.

    The music, Wow.

    The food looks delicious but I can't cook worth crap.

    Mind you, I could show the recipe to Wahid and he can make his own little version.

    Have a wonderful weekend with the family.

    Love Renee xoxo

  11. te dije ya que me encantó tu cambio de look en el blog????? y la receta tiene una pinta increible!!!

  12. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments. Gracias, Ramon, también.

    Greetings from London.

  13. Comoooooo! Se formO la despeinadera con el langostino netoooo! ;)

  14. I am sure this dish is loaded with flavor, with the toasted peppercorns, freshly ground out of the skillet, and sugar as a counterpoint. The music is spicy with a sweet counterpoint too. My favorites were the first and the last.

  15. P.S. The photo is incredible! Did you take it?

  16. My, I do love the way you've connected musicians and flavors. Such a fitting metaphor. You've reminded me of the Bard's "If music be the food of love, play on."

  17. Por tu madre, Cubam, qué hambre me ha entrado!!!!!
    Yo lo que almorzaré ahora serán arepas con almíbar...
    Saludos desde Berlín!!!

  18. OMG - I have just spent half and hour in heaven! Great food, sublime music...what more could a girl want? Superb, Mr. Cuban, quite simply superb.

    What an exceptionally wonderful time I've had catching up on your recent posts. Just amazing. This has to be one of the best, most interesting, most sensuous, most intelligent and erudite blogs in the enire Blogosphere. Unequivocally. What a pleasure it is to visit.

  19. What an awesome post - I really needed something for the soul today. The recipe looks hot hot hot. You have introduced me to a new artist - Azam Ali. Wow. And she lived in India just like I did, and has Iranian heritage, like my ancestors. Can't wait to discover more of her music. This is what she says about music, "What intrigues me most about the human voice, is its ability to make all things transparent through its power of transformation. The voice is not just a conduit for words. For me it is like an abstract dream in which everything makes perfect sense."
    (from Wiki). That's probably how you feel about dance? And I feel about poetry.
    Peace, from Cambridge

  20. Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.

    Indeed, Shaista, that was what attracted me first to Azam's voice. I came across her on my scrobbler by accident and dug out her clips on youtube in no time.

    Greetings from London.

  21. Ooh, yum! But then Nigel's recipes are usually gems!

  22. Mmmm....that does sound delish. I like the tango accompaniment...must be perfect!

  23. Oh, yes, Vanilla. You're absolutely right! And he is not into that diva-like attitude many chefs in the UK have.

    Diva, the tango goes with this recipe like hand in glove.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  24. Perfect food and music go hand in hand. Now that I've been introduced to Azam Ali I will be looking for more of her singing to provide a perfect exotic touch.

  25. Many thanks, Barbara, for your kind comment.

    Greetings from London.



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