Butter-Poached Spot Prawns with Israeli Couscous


Seattle chef Maria Hines poaches spot prawns -- a Northwestern delicacy -- slowly in butter to accentuate their tenderness and sweetness.


  • 12 spot prawns, roe intact

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous

  • 3 cups bite-size cauliflower florets

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots

  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon

  • 3 sprigs , plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • ¾ cup heavy cream

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish

  • Chopped mint leaves, for garnish

  • Charmoula, for serving


  1. Carefully peel prawns (the barbs on the tail are sharp) and reserve roe; discard shells or reserve for making seafood stock. Set prawns and roe aside.

  2. Bring large pot of water to boil. Generously salt boiling water and return to boil. Add Israeli couscous and cook according to package directions; drain and transfer to large bowl. Set aside.

  3. Bring another large pot of water to boil. Generously salt boiling water and return to boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until tender but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Place half of the cauliflower florets in the jar of a blender. With the motor running, slowly add 1 cup cooking liquid. Blend until cauliflower is pureed and the consistency of thick gravy.

  4. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring, until edges begin to brown and caramelize, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Transfer cauliflower to bowl with Israeli couscous and stir in chopped parsley and chives; set aside.

  5. Place parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth; tie with a piece of kitchen twine to enclose. Place in a medium saucepan along with heavy cream. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat for 20 minutes; remove cheesecloth packet and discard. Add butter and whisk until melted and well combined; season with salt and pepper. Add reserved prawn roe and stir to combine.

  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add prawns. Cook just until flesh turns pink, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

  7. To serve, spoon cauliflower puree in the center of each of four plates. Spoon couscous mixture on top of puree; top each with three prawns. Spoon some of the poaching liquid over prawns and garnish with cilantro, parsley, mint leaves, and chives. Spoon charmoula around cauliflower puree; serve immediately.

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