Santa Barbara Spot Prawns with Tomato Confit, Garlic, and Chile
16 large spot prawns (2 pounds)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups slided shallots (about 2 shallots)
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (5-6 sprigs)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chile de arbol
1/2 cup sliced garlic
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Yellow tomato confit (recipe below)
1/4 cup sliced flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
2 tablespoon sliced green basil
2 tablespoon sliced opal basil
1 lemon, for juicing
Use kitchen scissors to cut the shells of the spot prawns down their backs from their tails to the middle of their bodies. (Goin's suggest cutting all the way to the base of their head, but I'd keep it closed half way, to seal in more prawn juice.) Cutting the backs of the shrimp will make it easier to the peel the shrimp so you and your guests don't have to gnaw your way to the prawn meat.
Heat a sautè pan over high heat for 3-4 minutes. Swirl 2 tablespoons of olive oil into each pan, and place the prawns on their sides. (Cook the prawns in batches of 3-4 at a time.) Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the shells get some color and the flesh begins to turn opaque on the first side. Turn over and drizzle another 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan and season the other side with salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes until the prawns are cooked.
Remove the prawns from the pan, and repeat until you finish cooking all prawns. Keep the wondrous prawn juice in the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. Add shallots, thyme, and sliced chiles to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots are transluscent (about 2 minutes). Make sure to scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the flavorful shrimp bits. Add garlic and cook until the shallots and garlic are soft. Turn the heat back up to high. Add cherry tomatoes, salt and a lot of ground pepper. Cook until the cherry tomatoes are soft.
Add prawns, sliced parsley, oregeno, and basils into the the cherry tomato mix. Make sure the prawns roll around in the mix.
Spoon hot yellow tomato confit (see recipe below) into 4-6 bowls. Arrange prawns in the bowl of confit. Spoon the remaining cherry tomato sauce over the top. Served with a lot of warm sliced baquettes to sop up the sauce and juices.