NB: I recently edited this post/recipe (originally posted 28th October 2009) for a Critic article and am re-posting it because this version is cleaner. Plus this is one of my absolute favourite dishes, so I'm sharing it, again!
This is the dish that I am most proud of, even though I am not sure that I have the right to be proud of something that isn’t an original idea. I watched Jamie Oliver make something like it on TV once so I just followed the basic rules and added/changed whatever I felt like. Also, it isn’t a particularly unusual or novel dish. It is, however, absolutely delicious and that is why it is my favourite thing to make whenever I feel the urge to impress friends or family. Everyone I've ever made this for has loved it and has asked me to make it for them again.
I just love rich, nutty taste that you get when you bite into lovely golden brown slices of sautéed garlic. Combine that with tasty, springy grilled prawns, the zing of chilli flakes and the mellow, woody taste of shaved parmesan, and you have yourself a winner! Who cares about garlic breath when something tastes this amazing? Plus, as with everything else I cook, it is incredibly easy to throw together - so easy that I always keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer and a bottle of anchovies in the drawer just in case I feel the need to whip this up. Try it.
Chilli, Garlic Prawn & Vermicelli
Anchovies (80g, bottled in olive oil)
Garlic (Thinly sliced. Lots. There's no such thing as too much.)
Vermicelli (or any pasta of your choice, IMO it goes best with vermicelli)
Olive Oil and Salt
- Pat dry prawns and marinate in minced garlic (mince some of the slices), salt and olive oil to coat. Mix well.
- Boil water with salt and oil in pot to cook pasta. Monitor as you cook.
- ‘Grill’ prawns in hot dry pan until golden on each side. Prawns cook quite quickly, so be careful not to overcook them.
- Remove cooked prawns from pan and reduce the heat to medium.
- Pour in all the oil from the bottle of anchovies (it is important to use the oil from the anchovies), then when pan has cooled a little, add the anchovies too (if you add them immediately, the pan may still be too hot and they may burn). Add more olive oil if required.
- Sauté anchovies for a while then toss in all the sliced garlic and sauté until soft and golden brown. Most of the anchovies will dissolve.
- As soon as garlic slices start to brown, reduce heat to low. Add chilli flakes and Italian herbs and salt and mix well. You have to a bit more salt that you usually would, otherwise it will be bland.
- Drain vermicelli, add to pan and toss well with other ingredients. Taste to see if it needs more salt. Add as necessary.
- Serve topped with shaved parmesan.
- Take one bite, widen your eyes and exclaim "OMG this is SO good!", then gobble it up and go for seconds.