Neil Perry’s Classic Prawn Cocktail

Serves: 4

I have plated this dish at least half a dozen times and it is always so well received.

Classic Saturday lunch sort of stuff.

Fresh prawns, iceberg and a wonderful cocktail sauce. Everything you would expect of Neil Perry in his style of cooking.

Of course, it’s nothing new and people have been doing this since the 70s. Though slightly deconstructed like this recipe is, it’s a great return of a classic dish.

Follow it up with a good steak over charcoal and oh man, that is a great Saturday indeed.


150gm iceberg lettuce, outer leaves and core removed, finely shredded (about 1/4 of a whole lettuce)
2 lemon wedges, plus extra to serve
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
16 large cooked king prawns, peeled, tailed instant and intestinal tracts removed

140ml thick good-quality egg mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish (I use horseradish cream)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Dash of Tabasco sauce


  1. For sauce, combine ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Divide lettuce among 4 plates, squeeze 2 lemon wedges over and drizzle with oil. Season to taste, top with prawns and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Prawn & Cannellini Bean Salad

Serves: 4

This is just a great salad.

Like surprisingly great.

Saturday lunch is served!


500gm green prawns peeled
400gm canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained well
2 inner celery stalks, sliced, leaves torn
20 pitted Ligurian olives
8 basil leaves, torn
Crusty bread, to serve

Red Wine Dressing

100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp oregano leaves, roughly chopped
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make Red Wine Dressing: combine oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper in a screw top jar and shake well to emulsify. Pout into a bowl.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with 2 tbsp of salt per litre of water.
  3. Add the prawns to the boiling water and cook for a minute or two. Allow to cool somewhat and then cut into chunks and add to the Red Wine Dressing.
  4. Add beans, celery, celery leaves, olives and basil and toss until well combined.
  5. Serve at room temperature with crusty bread.

Spaghetti Machiavelli

Serves: 4 as an entree

Machiavelli’s – a Sydney lunchtime institute for as long as I can remember – is one of our favourite restaurants.

Full of men in suits – with walls covered in photos of famous men in suits – Machiavelli has plenty of appeal to us. It’s underground and a great place to hide; we get to watch bankers and lawyers and important women and men lunch whilst we spend the whole time talking about our kids and planning our next holiday.

The service is on-point. The food is excellent. There is a real excitement about the place.

Being a business restaurant, the food flies out.

We always order the calamari and gamberi fritti to start and I swear it arrives before the waiter has punched in the order.

Then it is on to the signature dish: Spaghetti Machiavelli.

Which is one of my top 5 favourite pastas ever. And the only main I have ever ordered at Machiavelli’s.

Butter. Fish Stock, Prawn. Chilli.

Stop it!

A few weeks back, we had an Italian cook off at my parent’s house. I found the recipe for the Spaghetti Machiavelli at the back of the Internet and boom.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Spaghetti Machiavelli.

And let me leave you with this:

My mother – who is my cooking inspiration – said it was the best pasta she had ever had.

What are you waiting for!


160gm prawn meat, rough chopped
100gm button mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp fresh garlic, crushed
1 tsp Thai red chilli, chopped
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
300gm Spaghetti
300ml fish stock

To Serve

4 tsp butter
2 handfuls of basil leaves0
Salt and pepper to season


  1. Saute the prawn meat, mushrooms, garlic and chilli in the oil until the prawns are half cooked through.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the prawn mixture.
  3. Add the fish stock and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Toss the butter and basil leaves through, season and serve immediately.

Shrimp Taco bowls

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

These shrimp taco bowls are good. Day 2 into our diet and Rob was out somewhere for dinner whilst I was at home jealously dreaming of the steak and chips he would have been eating. The jealousy didn’t last that long because the prawns were juicy, cheese melted and corn was sweet.

Granted its not a REAL taco however for a Tuesday on day 2 of the diet I give it a tick. Taco Tuesday gets a whole new meaning.


1 tablespoon olive oil
20 medium prawns peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels, canned or frozen and thawed
1 cup tomatoes diced
1/2 cup fat-free cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped


  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp, garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper, and salt.
  2. Cook, about 5 minutes, until shrimp are firm and cooked through. Let cool.
  3. Divide the rice between 4 meal prep containers, the rice should fill about half the container.
  4. Place 4 shrimp in each container on top of the rice. Place the beans, corn, tomatoes, and cheese in 4 piles, each ingredient should have their own pile.
  5. Sprinkle the cilantro over top of all the ingredients. Cover and seal. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 4 Prepped Meals | Serving Size: 1 Prepped Meal | Calories: 330 | Total Fat: 10 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Fiber: 7 g | Carbohydrates: 45 g | Sugar: 2 g | Protein 15 g | Cholesterol 52 mg | Sodium: 477 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 6




Pad si-iew prawns

Serves: 4

We are currently on a wonderful holiday in Koh Samui.

As you would expect, pretty much everything is planned around and hinged on food; and a few stops into a local tailor who is expertly – and inexpensively – working me up two suits.

We had one of the best pizzas either of us had ever had at a place near Bophut called Dr Frogs: the thinnest Rome-style pizza ever, one with parma ham and mozzarella, the other with this incredible beef sauce, mozzarella, rosemary and parmesan called ‘Dr Frogs Evolution’.

We had a really memorable – and Italian again – meal at a place called Pepenero, where the chef added me to Facebook after the three of us swapped stories of pasta, cooking, wine and the good life. The guy was a genius and you really should try if you are ever in this part of Thailand: his pasta and love for the good life are just awesome.

In fact, whether it has been grungy Thai or an exquisite Beef Wellington (old school, right!) at The Larder, the food has been amazing.

The highlight however was today when we did a cooking school with Smiley Chef, a warm, simple and really authentic collection of cooks who start at the markets, cook in an outdoor kitchen and finish with plates of hot, spicy, beautiful Thai food.


We did four dishes; the four of us – Nat, myself and two ladies from Hong Kong and Vancouver respectively – chose a dish each and Pas si-iew being Nat’s go-to Thai noodle dish was her choice. She is no fool!

It was a classic, classic interpretation.

The fear when ordering from a new Thai restaurant in Sydney (and really anywhere) is how they will do – or not so well do – the Pad Thai and Pad si-iew. Stick to this recipe and you will have the most down-the-line, no questions asked version you could want.

This will definitely become one of our future staples.

(I have adapted the recipe to suit four people… just make sure you serve it hot!)


Sunflower oil
4 good handfuls of Pad si-iew noodle, fresh
8 stems of Chinese kale, cut into 4 cm pieces
8 baby corn, quartered
12 slices – thin – of carrot
8 clove garlic, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
12 prawns, peeled
Chilli flakes
White pepper
Lime slices


4 tbsp Oyster sauce
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Black Soy sauce
2 tbsp Light Soy sauce
2 tbsp Fish sauce
2 tbsp sugar (palm or coconut sugar if you have it)


  1. In a wok or frypan, heat two tbsp sunflower oil over a medium-high heat and fry the garlic for a minute or two. Add the chicken and when the chicken is cooked, add the egg, scrambling until cooked.
  2. Add the noodle, seasoning and the vegetables and stir fry over a high-heat for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Serve on a plate with fresh lime, chilli flakes and a sprinkling of white pepper.

Prawns, peas and epic (prawn) oil

Serves: 2

Sitting with my mate Leo waiting for a haircut (that never actually eventuated because they didn’t notice us for 15 minutes and when they did, told us they had no room for us until 4pm; and Leo doesn’t even have hair!) and flicking through Men’s Health.

And among photos of men with incredible abs, photos of huge watches and photos of men with incredible abs wearing huge watches running through parks, was this recipe.

Except for the oil, it is super healthy and in any event, there isn’t much oil left after you reduce it all and it is olive oil, so it’s goodish anyway.

It can be a little unidirectional in its otherwise excellent flavour – we’re talking prawns and half a kilo of peas here – so go all in with the flavour; the herbs, lemon, good crack of pepper.


500gm of prawns, shelled and deveined (shells/heads retained)
½ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
¼ bunch parsley, chopped
250ml fish or vegetable stock
500gm peas (frozen baby peas is what I used)
1 onion sliced
Handful fresh dill roughly chopped
Handful fresh mint roughly chopped
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Juice of half a lemon


  1. Add oil to a pan over a medium heat. Stir in the prawn shells/heads and cook for 5 or so minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly golden, before storing in the chilli and the parsley for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then strain the oil, discarding the solids. Do not wash the pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the stock to boil then turn to medium and cook the peas for 3 – 5 minutes until tender. Strain the peas, keep the stock.
  3. In the same pan as used before, on a medium heat, add the onions and allow to caramelise for 8 – 10 minutes. Add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes until tender.
  4. Stir in the peas for a minute before folding in half the dill and mint and half the stock; you want it to be a lose mix but not soupy.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of the epic oil (prawn oil). Season with salt and pepper, squeeze in the lemon juice and serve, garnished with the remaining herbs.

Ellen’s Caesar Salad Dressing

Serves 4

I can’t categorically claim that this recipe is my mother’s, though when she cites recipes, she always gives credit where credit is due; and for this particular dressing, she cites no one.

Doubly, Caesar salad was something I at so much of as a child (or at least as a teenager) that this particular dressing means home to me. Honestly, I have never tasted a better Caesar dressing.

Tear some cos lettuce, cut half a loaf of white break into 2cm squares and sauté in olive oil until brown (and sprinkling with garlic powder once done), shave some parmesan, perhaps julienne and cook some bacon, and here is your classic – brilliant – Caesar salad; add grilled prawns or grilled, sliced chicken breast and here is your classic – brilliant – weekend lunch!

2 cloves garlic
1 tin flat anchovy fillets
¼ c oil (olive oil and vegetable oil mixed)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Good grind of pepper

Salad: All the other ingredients for a Caesar salad; cos lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, bacon and perhaps some protein in the form of prawn or chicken.


  1. For the dressing, in a blender, blend all the ingredients and check the seasoning.

King Prawns sautéed with tomato, fish sauce and black pepper (Tom Rim)

Serves 4

I first cooked this dish at a cooking class at the Seafood School with my mother Ellen, around 2003. The teacher was Mark Jensen, the head chef at Red Lantern, and I swear, I became infatuated with this dish and cooked it a dozen times for different friends: Rob and Jill, Giles and Nat… even Aaron and Nilhan.

And of course my Nat one winter’s Sunday night where it hit the right note!

It is rich, hot and striking and with fresh prawns, coriander and spring onion, knocks the socks off of unsuspecting guests. I still have the recipe printout from the Seafood School, though I rediscovered it after buying the Red Lantern cookbook a few years back; this should become a staple for you.


1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
12 jumbo king prawns, peeled, deveined, with tails intact
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 cup (185ml) fish stock
1/2 very ripe tomato, diced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 small handful coriander leaves


  1. Add the oil, garlic and chilli to a wok over medium heat and stir until fragrant but not coloured.
  2. Add the tomato paste. Prawns and sugar. Toss to combine.
  3. Add the pepper, fish sauce, fish stock and diced tomato.
  4. Increase the heat, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes or until the prawns are cooked through.
  5. Remove the prawns to a serving planner, reduce the sauce slightly (the sauce starts to take on a slight syrupy texture) and pour over the prawns.
  6. Garnish with the spring onion and coriander.

Spaghetti with prawns, basil and pistachios

With a glass of cold white wine and some bread and salad, you've set up Saturday afternoon as a win.
With a glass of cold white wine and some bread and salad, you’ve set up Saturday afternoon as a win.

Serves 4

Another simple and successful Neil Perry dish.

And yes, it is essentially pesto through no, it tastes nothing like the stuff in the jar. It is much lighter and fresher and really clean. A great Saturday lunch with a big glass of white.


1 clove garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ bunch basil leaves
¼ bunch parsley leaves
¼ bunch mint leaves
½ c toasted unsalted pistachios
1 tbsp finely grated parmesan
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
400g dried spaghetti
1kg green king prawns, peeled with tails intact


  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt. Add the herbs and continue to pound until a thick paste is formed and the herbs broken down.
  2. Add half the pistachios and continue to pound until the paste is a creamy consistency.
  3. Chop the remaining pistachios and stir through the paste, also adding the parmesan, 2 tbsp oil and lemon juice. Season with more salt as necessary, and a pinch of pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente and set aside keeping warm.
  5. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil over a high heat and pan fry the prawns quickly; around two minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Mix the pesto with the pasta, stir in the prawns and serve.

Antonio Carluccio’s Farfalle con Grancevola e Gamberetti (Butterfly Pasta with Spider Crab and Small Prawns)

Serves 4

This is a left of centre dish and one I was slightly suspicious about; where would the flavour come from? Would it be too subtle?

The recipe is from Antonio Carluccio’s beautiful and modestly named book, ‘Pasta’. It is a wonderful book if only that all of the recipes are simple, unique, rustic and incredibly good.

I substituted Spider Crab for Blue Swimmer Crab (given that Spider Crabs are found fairly much only in the northern hemisphere) and increased slightly the quantity of both the crab and prawn.

Carluccio says to garnish with dill or parsley though the dill is the way to go; it keeps the aniseed flavour lingering longer, really pulling the whole dish together. Seriously, if you had this pasta in a top restaurant, you would not be surprised. Its simplicity and flavour is that good.


350gm dried medium farfalle pasta
3 tbsp finely chopped dill (or fresh flat-leaf parsley)


250gm ready prepared (spider) crab meat
150gm small raw prawns (I used 500gm medium prawns)
1 aubergine (eggplant), peeled and cut into slices
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
150gm leeks, finely chopped (I used one leek)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
50ml White wine


  1. Boil the prawns for about 2 – 3 minutes, drain and peel.
  2. Cook the aubergine in slightly salted water until soft; about five minutes. Mash.
  3. Heat the pol in a large saucepan and fry the garlic and leeks until soft; do not let them brown. Add the fennel seeds and the mashed aubergine and fry for a few minutes before adding the wine and mixing well. Cook gently for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the crab and the prawns, stir and heat through and taste for salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.
  6. Drain well and mix with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with dill (or parsley).