Garlic Pepper Butter Prawns

From the Spied and Curried chapter of Ed Smith’s Crave: Recipes arranged by flavour, to suit your mood and appetite, these garlic pepper butter prawns are cooked in a rich, butter sauce flavoured with black pepper, chilli, turmeric and mustard seed. After a quick 15 minutes in a simple marinade, the dish takes just 2-3 minutes to cook in a hot wok.

Garlic Pepper Butter Prawns

Read our full review of Crave by Ed Smith to find out more about the cookbook, including two other recipes we are sharing on Kavey Eats.

Garlic Pepper Butter Prawns

There are a few things going on here, but the ‘garlic’, ‘pepper’ and ‘butter’ in the title are at the core of it, taking the lead of memorable prawn and crab dishes eaten in Mumbai. 
Use the largest king prawns you can find – shelled but still raw. The freezer section of Asian supermarkets is a good source. If they’ve not already been deveined and scored, there’s a little bit of work to prepare them but it’s not really that time consuming and is definitely worth it. Excellent as a light meal with flatbreads or rice (to soak up the butter sauce). But arguably better as part of a feast alongside a collection of other dishes – the paneer and its coriander and mint chutne, a dal, rice, breads and pickles.
Author Ed Smith


  • 200 g (7 oz) raw large king prawns
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 25 g (1 oz) salted butter in cubes
  • tbsp whole peppercorns, crushed to a coarse grit
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ lime, cut in 2 wedges
  • 15 g (½ oz) picked coriander (cilantro) leaves


Serve with basmati rice and/or flatbreads.


  • Use a sharp knife to score the outside curve of each prawn, two thirds of the way through, so there’s more surface area to collect the spices. If not already deveined, use the tip of the knife to pull away the black line. Leave the tails on if they’re still there.
  • Pop the prepped prawns in a bowl, along with the garlic, turmeric and half a tablespoon of the oil. Mix thoroughly, then leave in the fridge for 15 minutes or more.
  • Ensure the rice (or the rest of your feast) is ready before beginning to fry the prawns – they take just 2–3 minutes to cook.
  • Put a wok on as high a heat as possible. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil then the mustard seeds and, when 20 seconds or so later the oil is smoking hot and the mustard seeds are popping, tip in the prawns along with all of their garlicky marinade.
  • Fry for 30 seconds without stirring, then add the butter, crushed peppercorns and chilli flakes. Use a spatula or similar to push and toss the prawns and spices in the rapidly melting butter and cook for barely 90 seconds more, transferring the prawns and the buttery sauce to a serving dish as soon as they’re pink.
  • Ensure all the butter and pepper from the wok is scraped over the top of the prawns, add a squeeze of lime from one of the wedges, leaving the second as optional garnish, along with a generous scattering of coriander.

Check the main book review for our reader offer of a free Crave e-booklet of extra recipes, available for anyone who purchases the cookbook by the 23rd July.

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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Crave by Ed Smith: Recipes Arranged by Flavour, to Suit Your Mood and Appetite from publisher Hardie Grant. Book photography by Sam A Harris. 

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