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Recipe: Italian Tempura Prawns


The humble prawn is given an Italian twist in this recipe which is all about the ‘zucchini fritti’ batter, traditionally used with courgette strips. For the full-on feast experience, drizzle surplus batter over the herbs at the end or, for a lighter version, use less oil. Either way, the result is simply (and we mean simply) divine.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 50g flour
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 60ml warm water from a tap
  • 1 egg white
  • 500g flavourless vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 15 raw peeled king prawns (approx 250g), patted dry
  • 4-6 small fresh sage leaves, not big tough ones
  • Few sprigs parsley


Step 1: Whisk the flour and olive oil briefly in a bowl, then start to add the warm water, pouring in a little at a time. Keep going until you have a smooth batter the consistency of double cream. You may need more or indeed less water to reach this point.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it is thick and holding its shape (with only one egg white, you can do this easily enough by hand). Fold the egg white into the batter then refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Step 3: When the time’s almost up, heat the vegetable oil in a smallish saucepan. Halve your lemon lengthways and cut one of the halves across into thin slices. Cut the other half in two, and add to the serving plate for squeezing over the prawns when eating.

Step 4: To check the oil is hot, drop in a cube of bread. If it sizzles quickly, you’re ready to go. Watch your pan carefully all the time.

Step 5: Get out another bowl and pour about 3 tbsps of batter in it. Add 4 or 5 prawns, then turn them with a small spatula to coat them in batter.

Step 6: Carefully lower the coated prawns, one by one, into the hot oil, then fish them out with a slotted spoon when they turn a pale gold (less than one minute). Put them onto a plate lined with kitchen roll. Continue with all the prawns, decanting a little batter into a bowl to coat each batch.

Step 7: Cover the lemon slices with batter and cook for a few seconds. Then dip the herbs in the batter and fry until they’re crisp. Take the pan off the heat.

Step 8: Tumble all the tempura-coated prawns and lemons onto a warmed platter, sprinkle the batter-crisped herbs on top and serve instantly.

From Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration by Nigella Lawson (£14.99, Chatto & Windus), now out in paperback.



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