What’s cooking today: Prawn skewers with chilli-garlic butter

What’s cooking today: Prawn skewers with chilli-garlic butter
Tony Jackman’s chilli-garlic prawn skewers. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

With me fresh off the plane from southern Portugal, almost anything coming out of my kitchen right now holds a bit of recent nostalgia. Like these chilli-garlic prawn skewers.

Prawns are everywhere on the breezy Atlantic coast that warms Cascais and Estoril. In the massive Supermercado Auchan in Cascais, the seafood section goes on forever – the kind of marine splurge you can only dream about in South Africa, even in the supermarkets of our coastal cities. And half of it is all about prawns of various kinds and sizes, some raw, others ready to eat.

We’re more of a mind to braai meat, generally, but it was immediately clear that the citizens of this sunny coast eat masses of seafood as a matter of course. So, when a friend brought around a huge pack of frozen prawns a few hours before we were planning a small braai for six, there was only one way I was going to braai them: skewered, and basted with chilli-garlic butter with a hint of lemon.

Because this recipe is for prawns on a skewer, they need to be deshelled and cleaned first. The quantity of prawns depends on their size and the length of your skewers. So, if feeding six people, you’ll need 30 prawns if your skewers can hold five, 36 if they’ll take 6, or 42 if they can hold 7. My prawns were small, so I threaded 7 on each bamboo skewer. Because they were tiddlers, I served two skewers each, but if bigger, one should suffice.

(Makes 6 skewers, serving 1 skewer per portion; double up if you prefer)


30, 36 or 42 prawn tails, depending on their size

6 skewers

For the baste:

200 g butter

3 or 4 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped

3 or 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste


If using whole prawns, remove their heads and shells and pull out the “veins”. Then rinse in cold water and drain. Pat dry.

Chop the garlic very finely. Ditto the red chillies, after lopping their stems off and scraping away the seeds. Zest the lemon and slice it in half.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the garlic, chillies, lemon juice and zest. Let it simmer for barely a minute; the garlic must not colour. Add salt and black pepper and stir. Turn off the heat and leave it to steep.

Skewer the prawns in equal numbers per skewer.

Baste immediately before braaing the skewers over hot coals. Turn two or three times while cooking, basting again as you go, for only a few minutes. Don’t overcook them, which is easy to do; if they seem to be done, they most likely are. Make sure you have some sauce left over for a final basting just before serving.

Garnish with coriander and serve. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.


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