My first encounter with Italy dated back 20 years ago, when my family and I took a summer vacation there. Our first stop was Rome the eternal city, the whole place was ablaze in a heat wave, everything was alive with warmth, sunshine and energy. As a child I was fascinated by all the beautiful historic monuments and arts. My little brother, with his sensitive stomach, got worn as the voyage continued. Me on the other hand, got more energetic as the days passed, stuffing myself with gelato as big as my face everyday…
Soon summer vacation ended and I was back to my life as a busy fourth-grader. But somehow in the back of my mind I guarded those good memories…
By the time I made another trip to Italy, 18 years has passed. This time to Venice, with my husband (fiancé back then). Newly engaged, we talked endlessly about our dream house and wedding preparation. And… kept getting lost in the maze of canals. One day it was raining and we lost our way in the alleys again.
Drenched and tired, we finally decided to take shelter in a modest looking restaurant. There it was, I tasted one of the best conchiglie (shell pasta) in my life. The sauce made with prawn roe was so rich, silky and luscious, deeply infused with freshness…
Isn’t it funny how food always recall the fondest memories?! Somehow I relived all the conversations we had, all the dreams we shared while I remade this dish…
- 6 tiger prawns
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 6 cups whipping cream
- 1 1/2 pounds conchiglie
- Using kitchen scissors to cut off all the prawn’s leg and antennae, and cut the tip of the prawn’s head.
- Devein all the prawns- make a slit along the middle of the back and then pull out the veins.
- Peel 4 of the prawns, cut the prawn into bite-size dice. Reserve the heads and 2 whole prawns.
- Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add reserved prawn heads and roe. Sauté 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
- Add tomato paste; stir for 3 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, wine, garlic.
- Add cream; boil 2 minutes over low heat.
- Simmer just until prawn flavor infuses cream, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Pressing on prawn heads to extract as much flavors as possible.
- Discard all the shells. (The sauce can be prepared in advance. Cover separately and chill.)
- Heat the pan with medium to high heat. When the pan is about ready, add the 2 whole prawns in the pan. Cook for 2 mins or until the shell changes color. Turn to the other side and cook for 1 min further.
- Transfer sauce to saucepan. Add in the bite-size pieces of prawn. Gently cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
- Drain; return pasta to pot. Add sauce; toss over medium-high heat until sauce coats pasta, about 4 minutes.
- 14. Season with salt and pepper and garnish the dish with the whole prawns on top.