We all did need a geography lesson for this one. We had no clue where these islands really were. Thank goodness for our atlas.
Cultural influences on this country include African, Indonesian, Arabic and Portugese, resulting in Comorians utilizing many different types of spices and exotic ingredients. A typical Comorian meal always contains rice and meat or fish, seasoned with one of the many locally produced ingredients like vanilla, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. The Portugese introduced products from the New World to the islands and many dishes include ingredients such as bell peppers, maize, chillies, tomatoes, bananas, pineapples, limes and oranges.
I was immediately intrigued by a recipe for lobsters with vanilla sauce, served with clover sprouts. As always I made a few adaptations, substituting prawns for lobster (pocket-book consideration) and radish sprouts for clover sprouts (availability consideration) and more. So while Riley went to his mandolin lesson, Dylan strapped on a apron and went to work.
Roasted Prawns with Vanilla Sauce
served on a bed of wilted wild arugula with garlic and radish sprouts
- 2 pounds of prawns
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1 T olive oil
- 6 T butter
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 C white beer (the traditional recipe called for white wine)
- 2 T honey balsamic vinegar (the traditional recipe called for white wine vinegar)
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- freshly ground pink Himalaya salt to taste
- freshly ground flower pepper to taste
- 1-1/2 pounds wild arugula (the traditional recipe called for spinach)
- 2 T minced garlic
- radish sprouts
In the meantime, make the vanilla sauce. Split a vanilla bean down the middle. Scrape the seeds out.
In a large sauce pan, heat the coconut oil and olive oil. Add the onions and sauté over low heat until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla pod, beer and vinegar, raising the heat and cooking at a moderate boil until the liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sauce and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
When the prawns are cool enough to handle, remove the shells from the body. Try to leave the tail and head intact. Loosely cover the meat with aluminum foil, and keep warm.
In a flat-bottom pan, heat a splash of olive oil and quickly brown the minced garlic. Stir in the arugula continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens become tender, about 5 minutes. Season them with salt and pepper.