Pan-fried prawns with garlic and Spanish paprika

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

There are many ways to make pan-fried prawns, but this easy recipe is always a winner in our home. Granted, it’s more of a spring or summer dish but, in a toasty coastal city like Port Elizabeth, any sunny day will do!

Spanish paprika or “pimenton” is different from regular or Hungarian paprika in that it is made from smoked, red bell peppers. It used to be quite difficult to find (our visitors from Spain are always instructed to bring a tin or two of Pimenton de la Vera along with them) but nowadays the likes of Woolworths, or speciality food stores, do stock it.

This recipe is flexible – you can vary the amount of chilli and garlic depending on your taste preference, and even the parsley is optional, although it does add lovely colour.

Some people like to peel and devein their prawns before cooking, but in my opinion a lot of flavour is lost this way. Rather supply finger bowls and let each guest peel their own. I have made this with both fresh and frozen prawns and either is fine; however, when using frozen prawns make sure they have been properly thawed and well drained.

Lemon wedges, a fresh green salad and crusty bread for mopping up the juices are good on the side.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a starter


One or two glugs of olive oil; 3 to 4 medium cloves of garlic, chopped or thinly sliced; 1 tsp Spanish paprika or “pimenton”; 1/4 tsp of dried chilli flakes; 1kg raw, unpeeled tiger prawns, heads intact; salt to taste; a small handful of flat-leafed parsley, chopped (optional).


In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, pimenton and chilli flakes, stir through, then up the heat to high and add the prawns. Let them cook for no more than two or three minutes without turning, until they start turning nicely pink.  Meanwhile sprinkle the uncooked sides with salt.
Turn each prawn over – do it quickly so they cook evenly – add the parsley and continue frying until the prawns, and their heads, are cooked through and completely, evenly pink. This should not take more than a minute or two. Remove from the heat and pile onto a large platter, sauce and all. Serve immediately.

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