In truth the Persians aren’t a particularly fishy bunch (no matter what the Pentagon says), and so this recipe really is a fusion of ideas. Potted shrimps are, of course, an Olde Englishe concepte, devised to keep these dainty little morsels fresher for longer. The blend of fish with butter, saffron and luscious herbs make this a dish fit for shahs aswell as fisherfolk.
Cheating is permissable – using Persepolis dried herbs instead of fresh is okay, and substituting prawns for shrimps will probably be more or less essential, as the real thing is hard to find. You can make this up to four days beforehand.
You will need:
- 600g prawns
- 350g proper butter
- a very big handful each of: coriander, parsley & chives
- a small handful of fenugreek (or 1/3rd of a bag of each if using dried herbs) *
- Pinch of saffron, ground and steeped in boiling water *
- 2-3 slices wholemeal pitta bread *
- Black pepper and lemon to garnish
- Olive oil *
* denotes available at Persepolis
Okey cokey, so you:
Prepare your herbs: discard the stems and soak the leaves in water for at least half an hour so that any sediment can settle out. Then drain and chop them fairly finely. If using dried herbs, you still need to soak them for half an hour. Fry the herbs in hot oil, rotating vigourously so that they all get coated and do not blacken (this will take about 7/8 minutes), and then set them aside.
Now clarify your butter: melt it in a pan, and simmer it gently for around five minutes; just as it threatens to brown, whip it off the heat and trickle it through a kitchen towel. Keep a bit back in the pan, but pour the rest into a frying pan; when it is hot again, chuck the prawns in, drizzle on the saffron and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the herbs, sizzle a bit more, and then divide the mixture between six ramekin dishes, sealing each one off with a little of the reserved butter. Chill for at least a couple of hours (the prawns, silly, not you – ‘tis the week before Christmas and you are meant to be panicking!). Prepare the nachos by toasting the bread so it puffs slightly, and then cutting each piece into eight ‘squares’; heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the squares until they are crispy.
Drain on a kitchen towel, and leave to cool. Present the ramekins with a plate of lemon wedges, a basket of nachos, and the pepper mill.