Prawns Thermidor

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While most people know or have heard of Lobster Thermidor, this is my version of a cheaper yet still delicious alternative. This classic French dish is almost more about the sauce and preparation than the actual meat (kinda like most French dishes, no?). While the classic lobster version has you ripping out the meat and mixing with the sauce before putting it back in the shells, this Prawns Thermidor version leaves the meat in the shells and puts the sauce over before baking. Why? Because prawns are so much smaller and cook so much faster, pulling the meat out and double cooking it will result in chewy rubbery pieces of shrimp.

This simplified recipe is great for entertaining guests at a dinner party. There is something innately fun about tucking into a split open shell of crustacean to get the delicious meat. Not to mention it looks highly impressive. While there are quite a few ingredients, the style is not particularly difficult so this dish can be done by anyone. And the best news, its essentially a sheet pan appetizer! Who doesn’t love being able to make a huge batch of something all at once?!

Ok, maybe it isn’t as easy as my roasting eggplant pieces, or chanterelle and pork stuffed zucchini, but it really does not take that much technical cooking know-how. It all starts with peeling the shrimp. Just like lobster Thermidor has the sauce and meat in the shell before baking, so does my prawns thermidor. I pulled off all the legs and used scissors to cut away at the hard shell covering the lower abdomen.

Cutting away at the shrimp abdomen shell

I also used scissors to cut away at any sharp parts of the shell so they don’t stab you as you are trying to get the meat out. I then flip the shrimp over and give it a few whacks with the blunt of my knife to break open the shell a bit more and flatten out the entire shrimp abdomen.

Breaking the prawn's shell a bit

Finally you can flip the shrimp over again and run a knife right down the middle of the meat to “devein” the prawn.

At this point you can lay the prawns on a baking tray meat side up and get to work on the Thermidor sauce, which after all, it wouldn’t be prawns thermidor without the famous sauce.

Prawns Thermidor Ingredients

5 large Prawns. I used Argentinean Red Shrimp, which are a good size in my opinion. Tiger shrimps or other jumbo prawns will also work.

2 tbsp Butter

2 tbsp Flour

150 ml Shrimp Stock. You can use my recipe here, which is basically the shrimp carapace boiled for 2 hours and strained. I also use this stock to make a fantastic shrimp soup. Never let those shells go to waste.

100 ml Milk

1 tsp Black Pepper; freshly cracked

1 Shallot; chopped

150 ml White Wine; dry.

2 tbsp Dry Sherry. This is a good way to use up some of the leftover sherry if you bought some for my Gambas Al Ajillo using more shrimp.

1 Egg Yolk

1 tsp Dry Mustard. Dry mustard is the traditional choice, but you can use hot English mustard, or even Dijon to change up the flavor profile a little bit.

1 tsp Paprika; to finish

Prawns Thermidor Instructions

1. First things first, begin by preparing your shrimp. This recipe makes 5 prawns thermidor, so you’ll need to cut open (from the bottom, legs removed) 5 shrimps. Snip away any sharp parts of the shell, and give the top of the abdomen a whack to help split the shell. See the pictures for reference. Cut down the middle of the meat to devein the shrimp and place on a baking tray with or without parchment paper. Do not remove the meat. This is not lobster thermidor, but my shrimp variation.

2. In a small saucepan on medium heat add the chopped shallot and fry dry for a minute or so. When the pan gets to heat add the wine and sherry and let reduce by about 75%.

3. While the alcohol is reducing, take another small saucepan and make the bechamel. Add the butter to the pan on medium heat and as soon as it is melted whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Then whisk in the milk. Add the cracked pepper.

4. When the contents of the alcohol saucepan have reduced, add in the shrimp stock and reduce by about 50%. It should start to resemble a glaze.

5. Combine the two saucepans. It really doesn’t matter which goes into which, just bring the heat to low.

6. Add the dry mustard and whisk in. In a small bowl beat the egg yolk. Take a tablespoon of the thermidor sauce and add it to the egg yolk, stirring with a fork fast so the egg doesn’t scramble. Then add all the contents back into the saucepan.

Prawns Thermidor Sauce
Nice Shiny Thermidor Sauce

7. Spoon over the thermidor sauce on the prawns making sure to cover all parts of the meat. You do not want ANY exposed shrimp flesh before this goes into the oven or they will overcook. You can let the sauce go a bit between the shell and the meat to be safe. When in doubt, use extra sauce.

prawns thermidor pre-oven

8. Place the tray into an oven preheated to 175 Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. You want the sauce to brown so in the last minute you can turn on your broiler/salamander if you have one. That will give it nice brown spots on top.

prawns thermidor
Delicious brown spots on the prawns thermidor fresh from the oven

9. Plate the prawns thermidor and sprinkle over with some smoked paprika to taste.

Notes

If you want to double or triple up on the thermidor sauce you can easily scale it with the amounts I’ve given. You can use the leftover to make my Prawns Thermidor Pasta, or for whatever other reason you may want a really rich thick sauce.

I serve these immediately, and hot, but they do taste fine if left to cool to room temperature. It can even be argued that the flavor is more prolific when it is not as hot.

Prawns thermidor
A Single Bite Prawns Thermidor

Recipe

Prawns Thermidor

Prawns Thermidor

A twist on the classic Lobster Thermidor, this Prawns Thermidor is delicious and impressive...perfect for your next party.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Prawns Thermidor
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 5 Prawns
Calories:

Ingredients

  • 5 Prawns large
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 150 ml Shrimp Stock Fish Stock also works
  • 100 ml Milk
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper freshly cracked
  • 1 Shallot chopped
  • 150 ml White Wine dry
  • 2 tbsp Dry Sherry
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard can also sub Spicy English or Dijon
  • 1 tsp Paprika to finish

Instructions

  • First things first, begin by preparing your shrimp. This recipe makes 5 prawns thermidor, so you'll need to cut open (from the bottom, legs removed) 5 shrimps. Snip away any sharp parts of the shell, and give the top of the abdomen a whack to help split the shell. See the pictures for reference. Cut down the middle of the meat to devein the shrimp and place on a baking tray with or without parchment paper. Do not remove the meat. This is not lobster thermidor, but my shrimp variation.
  • In a small saucepan on medium heat add the chopped shallot and fry dry for a minute or so. When the pan gets to heat add the wine and sherry and let reduce by about 75%.
  • While the alcohol is reducing, take another small saucepan and make the bechamel. Add the butter to the pan on medium heat and as soon as it is melted whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Then whisk in the milk. Add the cracked pepper.
  • When the contents of the alcohol saucepan have reduced, add in the shrimp stock and reduce by about 50%. It should start to resemble a glaze.
  • Combine the two saucepans. It really doesn't matter which goes into which, just bring the heat to low.
  • Add the dry mustard and whisk in. In a small bowl beat the egg yolk. Take a tablespoon of the thermidor sauce and add it to the egg yolk, stirring with a fork fast so the egg doesn't scramble. Then add all the contents back into the saucepan.
  • Spoon over the thermidor sauce on the prawns making sure to cover all parts of the meat. You do not want ANY exposed shrimp flesh before this goes into the oven or they will overcook. You can let the sauce go a bit between the shell and the meat to be safe. When in doubt, use extra sauce.
  • Place the tray into an oven preheated to 175 Celsius or 350 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. You want the sauce to brown so in the last minute you can turn on your broiler/salamander if you have one. That will give it nice brown spots on top.
  • Plate the prawns thermidor and sprinkle over with some smoked paprika to taste.
Did you make this?Mention @CookingToEntertain or tag #cookingtoentertain and let me know how it was!