Grilled Piri Piri Prawns
Piri Piri, (also spelled peri peri, pili pili) and which means “pepper pepper” in Swahili was synonymous with a handful of countries, notably Mozambique, South Africa, Angola, Namibia and Portugal. Go to any notable restaurant in the main cities of these countries and there is a good chance that any seafood platter you order will come with grilled piri piri prawns. The sauce has flown its Portuguese and African nest though. The Western world is now as familiar with it as Mozambicans, South Africans and others are.
In fact you do not need to leave the confines of your own kitchen or outdoor grill wherever you are to recreate the piri piri flavour. As we demonstrated here – Making the Piri Piri sauce – all you need for a basic sauce are African birds eye chilies, paprika, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. The thing with piri piri sauce is that once you’ve made some to fill a jar or two you naturally start thinking about what to pair it with. I could suggest grilled chicken with piri piri sauce or grilled meat with piri piri sauce, but No! It will have to be sweet, firm, meaty prawns today! There is just something about spicy and hot crustaceans that get folks, like Oliver Twist, asking for more.
On the subject of prawns, I once had half a Chinese restaurant in North London, England gazing at me in astonishment for what seemed like an eternity. I sat there wondering why until it dawned on me that there must have been something I was doing with the grilled prawns on my plate that just didn’t seem right – at least in their view. It later dawned on me half way through my plate of grilled prawns that everyone else was carefully peeling their prawns and taking the head off before tentatively teasing out the white fleshy bits of the prawns. In fact special plates were set aside for the remnants – the bony scaly parts of the discarded prawn. I had to smile to myself. If only these folks knew who brought me up they’d understand. My dear old grandma, an obese Ga woman born not too far from the seaside devoured her prawns almost in whole with not a single bit discarded. I guess her forebears before her did the same and she proudly raised moi, her first grandchild with a completely fearless spirit for fish bones or scaly crustaceans. You can get the boy out of Ghana, but you can never get the Ghana out of him!