Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Grilled Skewered Prawns & Spiced Rice

Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Grilled Skewered Prawns & Spiced Rice
(Photo: Tony Jackman)

Most of the preparation for this is done in advance. Once you have hot coals or a piping hot grill or skillet, you’ll be eating them in minutes.


24 vannamei prawns

3 Tbs olive oil

3 Tbs fresh lime juice

1 or 2 red chillies, deseeded, flesh chopped finely

2 or 3 garlic cloves, dehusked and finely chopped

Salt and pepper


The prawns I had were vannamei, also known as whiteleg shrimp, which have become commonplace as a frozen delicacy in South Africa. For 24 prawns, you’ll need eight bamboo skewers, three prawns on each. Or, if the skewers you have are shorter, two on each, so 12. Soak the skewers in cold water for half an hour so that they do not burn when you cook the prawns over the coals.

To devein vannamei prawns shell on:

Wash the prawns under cold running water. Pull off the heads, rinse, snip off the eyes and put the heads in a container to freeze them for making a lovely stock for a future fish dish. Use small sharp scissors to snip off the antennae and tiny “legs” (pleopods and pereiopods) along the underside of each tail. Rinse the thick end of each prawn tail. The “vein” will be either just below the carapace or on the underside of the prawn. The ones I had had them on the underside. Use a tiny pair of scissors or a small, sharp knife (I used a paring knife) to cut the shell all along the back, starting at the head end of the tail. Five to seven upward flicks of the knife should do it, along the shell towards the tail end. Turn the tail shell-side down on a board and use the sharp blade of the knife to cut into the flesh at the centre very carefully, but not enough pressure to pierce the shell. You have now butterflied your prawn. The “vein” will be visible. Use a toothpick to lift it up and discard it. (If the variety you have has them on the shell side, you will see the vein when you’ve clipped the shell open; pull it out with a toothpick.) This may come out intact at once or require several sections to be removed separately. Rinse each prawn after its vein has been removed and put them in a colander. 

Make a marinade of the oil, lime juice, garlic, chillies, salt and pepper, douse the prawns in it and leave to marinate for an hour or two.

Skewer the prawns side-on, twice: first, through the narrow end of the tail, and again near the top end (refer to the photo above to see how they’re skewered). Braai over hot cools or grill on a rack over an oven pan under a hot grill, for two minutes on each side. Or, grill them in a skillet, first shell side down, then turn. Try to keep some limes aside for garnishing, or, like me, suddenly realise you used all the limes, and garnish them with lemon wedges instead, hoping no one will notice.

For Spiced Rice:

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 Tbs olive oil

1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

½ a red capcisum (bell pepper), chopped finely

1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan

1 tsp ground turmeric

3 Tbs lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Coriander leaves

Cook basmati rice to packet instructions. Saute the onion with the bell pepper, garlic and spices. Add the chilli and lemon juice and cook for one minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir into cooked rice. Heat through on the hob, stirring, immediately before serving. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

TGIFood Tip: You can of course just use lemon instead of lime. If you have no chillies, substitute cayenne pepper or paprika. DM/TGIFood

Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.

Send your Lockdown Recipes to [email protected] with a hi-resolution horizontal (landscape) photo.

Thank God It’s Food is sponsored by Pick n Pay.


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options