Botanical prawn cocktail

Botanical prawn cocktail

William Meppem

I don’t think you can ignore a really good prawn cocktail. Here I have given it an Australian twist. You can use normal mango instead of the green mango, if you find it hard to source. Try adding finely shredded kaffir lime leaves to the pickle. Fishmongers have a terminology for classifying prawns. The smallest prawns are designated as U20, meaning that 20 prawns are equal to or less than 1 lb (500 g). The largest are U6, where 6 prawns roughly equal 1 lb. For a salad I recommend using U10–12 prawns, for barbecuing large U6–8s, but for prawn cocktails buy small U18–20s.


Quantity Ingredient
400g good-quality u20 green tiger prawns
1/2 small green papaya, peeled
1 green mango, peeled
1 continental cucumber, peeled
250ml Rice wine pickle
4 betel leaves
1 small iceberg lettuce heart, finely shredded
1 bunch vietnamese mint, leaves julienned
1/2 bunch purple basil, leaves julienned
1 avocado, halved, peeled and sliced
2 quail eggs, boiled, peeled and halved
pinch micro purple basil leaves or small purple basil leaves

Remoulade sauce

Quantity Ingredient
500ml Mayonnaise
250ml good-quality tomato sauce
50ml brandy
1 tablespoon cabernet sauvignon vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated
4 green chillies, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoo smoked paprika
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Boil some heavily salted water (500 g salt to 3 litres of water) and drop the prawns into it. Simmer over a high heat for 2 minutes, then remove the prawns and refresh immediately in iced water. When cool, peel the prawns, removing the dirt sac that runs down the centre of the back, and trim the ends so they are neat and presentable. Refrigerate the prawns until required.
  2. To make the sauce, combine the mayonnaise, tomato sauce, brandy, vinegar, garlic and chillies. Season with paprika, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, salt and pepper and refrigerate until required.
  3. Using a swivel peeler or mandolin shave off thin slices of the papaya. Repeat this with the mango and cucumber, keeping the slices separate. Julienne all slices with a sharp knife. Cover the papaya julienne with rice wine pickle. Refrigerate all vegetables until required, allowing 30 minutes for the pickling.
  4. Line 4 martini glasses with a betel leaf.
  5. Drain the papaya, squeezing it dry. Place a small amount in each glass followed by the mango. Mix the cucumber with the lettuce, mint and basil and arrange on the mango. Place the cooked, peeled prawns neatly in a stack on top.
  6. Carefully spoon over the sauce, top with avocado slices and quail egg halves, then decorate with small basil leaves and serve.

Chef’s note

  • Quail eggs are very easy to cook and are available at gourmet butchers and poultry supppliers. Simply place the quail eggs in a pot of cold water, bring to the boil then remove from the heat immediately. Peel when cool.
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