Some home cooks find seafood intimidating, but these lemony prawns are simple to prepare ahead and take just three minutes to cook when guests arrive. Buy the shrimp frozen in two pound bags and keep them on hand for spontaneous get-togethers. Once you master the recipe, double it and toss with fettuccine for a special and quick dinner.
Up to 2 Days Ahead:
1. With your hands, gently remove the tail from the shrimp.
2. Butterfly shrimp with a paring knife across the back of the shrimp where the digestive tract was removed, cutting halfway into the shrimp from the head to the tail.
3. Set prawns on a plate. Pat dry with paper towel to reduce moisture. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and cayenne.
4. Make the Sauce: Melt 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 cup butter in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the green onion and jalapeño and sauté until onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 of the garlic cloves and sauté 3 minutes more.
5. Pour the wine and lemon juice into the pan. Bring to a low boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook sauce until reduced by about half, approximately 8 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When Ready to Serve:
6. Remove shrimp and lemon wine sauce from refrigerator. Warm sauce in a large saucepan. Prepare a serving tray with lemon wedges as garnish and a container for guests to dispose of skewers.
7. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 garlic cloves and prawns, leaving space in between each prawn.
8. Cook prawns without moving for 30 to 50 seconds. Turn with tongs once cooked side is caramelized and golden in color. Cook 20 to 30 seconds on other side to brown. Pour warm lemon-wine sauce over and cook 1 minute more to heat through.
9. Place skewers through prawns while they’re in the hot pan. Transfer to platter and carefully drizzle extra pan sauce onto prawns, trying to keep skewers clean.
10. Garnish with fresh herbs, crushed red pepper and lemon zest.
Variation: Shrimp Scampi Linguini: To turn the prawns into a main course, double the recipe. Cook one 16-oz. package of fresh linguine until al dente. Add 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water to lemon-garlic sauce on stove. Cook to reduce for about 6 minutes. Drain pasta. Toss noodles with lemon-garlic sauce and golden-brown shrimp. Top with herbs and crushed red pepper.