prawns with arak

prawns with arak

Prawns with arak, using a handful of Zejd souri black olives, tomatoes, some garlic and a bit of chilli. Much loved in the shorkk household, this comes from Ottolenghi’s first cookbook. It’s a winning combination: dead simple, really delicious and the magic of watching the alcohol catch fire as you toss the pan is always impressive. Keeping some sustainably caught uncooked king prawns in your freezer has its rewards. Take them out in the morning, leave them on a plate lined with some kitchen paper and they’re ready to use by supper time. While they’re not cheap, this recipe is perfect for a special occasion. It’s not a hearty dish, but it’s very impressive.

Zejd’s souri black olives provide some serious taste to this simple dish. Enjoy the aroma while you remove their  stones. Ottolenghi’s recipe uses plum tomatoes, but the punnet of small tomatoes from our veg box were perfect. The marriage of the buttery tomato sauce with the arak will have you reaching for some good bread to mop up the sauce. If you can’t find any arak, ouzo or pastis might be more available, both made with aniseed. Serve as soon as it’s cooked. 

makes enough for 4 


400g tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
800g raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
50g butter, room temperature
70g Zejd souri black olives,stoned
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
a pinch of chilli flakes
20ml of arak, ouzo or pastis
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped  


  1. Cut the tomatoes in half if they are small, or in quarters if they are bigger.
  2. Put a heavy frying pan on high heat, and when hot add half of the butter. Once melted, add the tomatoes and cook for a minute or two to soften them. 
  3. Add the thinly sliced garlic, olives and the chilli. Toss the pan with the ingredients so as not to break up the tomatoes too much. 
  4. Then add the prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Finally add the arak taking care as it catches fire. Once the alcohol has evaporated, add the remaining butter and the parsley. Taste and add salt if required. Toss to make sure the sauce covers everything and the prawns are cooked. 

Serve with some bread to mop up the sauce. 

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