Prawns Aglio e Olio
Note: This was first posted in Jun 2008, now updated with new photos and improved recipe.
I really love Aglio e Olio, and it is my go-to one-dish pasta dish whenever I am out of ideas of what to cook. While the original and authentic recipe for Aglio e Olio is plain, it is now common to see all types of variations of Aglio e Olio, just like this plate cooked with fresh prawns (or my other plate of scallops Aglio Olio). And I think why not, cooking should be improvising and flexible – adding additional ingredients definitely make the usual Aglio e Olio a more complete and interesting meal. Since I have been making Aglio e Olio so frequently at home, we seldom, if not never, order Aglio e Olio outside anymore, mainly because we can make it at a fraction of the cost at home. The money to me, is more well spent paying for fresh, large prawns and perhaps a bottle of fine white wine to go with the pasta. And there is a whole lot more flexibility when cooking this at home to adjust the taste to our own preference (for example, I love XXL prawns and extra heat).
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Cooking Aglio e Olio is definitely not difficult, requiring very basic ingredients. Check out my tips for making basic Aglio Olio here. The extra step of boiling the prawn heads and shells will add some umami-ness to the Aglio Olio, but you can skip this step and use pasta water if out of time. Thanks to reader BC for sharing his wonderful tips on Aglio e Olio making.
- 2 servings of pasta (about 160-180g spaghetti)
- 3 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 40g butter, divided
- 10 to 12 large prawns (US name: shrimps)
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced or chopped (not too finely)
- 2 chilli padi, sliced or 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 30g Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1. Bring a pot of water with 1 tbsp sea salt to a boil. Cook pasta according to the timing indicated on the packet, until al dente. Drain and set aside the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.
2. Remove the shells and veins from the prawns. Add the prawns heads and shells to a small pot with just enough water to cover them (I use about 150ml water), bring to a simmer for about 3-5 minutes to make prawn stock. Strain the stock and set aside.
3. Heat half the butter in a sauce pan. Cook the prawns on both sides and set aside.
4. Add olive oil to the sauce pan with the prawn juices and browned bits. When the oil is heated, add garlic and chilli padi/chilli flakes (if using). Saute till the garlic turns light brown.
5. Turn off the stove. The garlic will continue cooking in the hot oil on its own for a few more seconds in the hot oil, until they turn a lovely golden brown.
6. Add cooked pasta, cooked prawns, about 2 tbsp of prawn stock, chopped parsley and remaining butter (cubed) to the garlic & oil mixture. Stir to coat all the ingredients evenly. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
1. If you are not making the prawns stock (Step 2), reserve some pasta water and add it in place of the prawn stock in the last step.
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