Grilled Prawn Salad

Matthew Dolan

Twenty Five Lusk, San Francisco

Some guidance from Matthew Dolan, a JBF Boot Camp alum:

Here's what to tell the fish guy:

  • Ask this person where the prawns come from. The Gulf of Mexico is your best bet, and if it is a skim net, you’re on fire! If the answer is Indonesia, don’t do it.
  • Next, if they don’t have the bigger 16 to 20 guys (this means that’s how many come in a pound), ask for the next closest size. The bigger guys are more user-friendly on the grill.
  • We want peeled and deveined prawns, and many will do this in advance. If they don’t have them, ask if they will do it. Then go sit somewhere and check your emails, have a beer, and come back when they are ready. This shouldn’t cost you anything. And even when it’s done for you, check the backs of these guys for those little black strings, they happen to be something that you do not want to eat (shrimp poop).


Coconut Vinaigrette:

  • 4 ounces unsweetened coconut milk (Chaokoh is a great brand)
  • 3 limes, zest and juice reserved
  • 1 ounce Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed using the underside of a frying pan
  • 1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns, crushed using the underside of a frying pan
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • Salt

Grilled Prawn Salad:

  • 1 small head napa cabbage, rinsed and shaved thinly (about 4 cups)
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked
  • 1/2 bunch Thai basil, leaves picked (regular basil will work as well)
  • Oil for grilling
  • 2 pounds Gulf prawns (approximately 16 to 20 count per pound), peeled and deveined
  • Salt


Make the vinaigrette: this happens in a blender ideally, but a mixing bowl and a whisk will suffice. Combine the coconut milk, lime juice and zest, Champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, crushed coriander, crushed white peppercorns, and diced jalapeño. Blend until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and lime juice as desired. Let this stand for 30 minutes before using.

Fire up the grill to high heat. Let it burn for a while and then scrape it like crazy to remove the junk you left on there from the last time you grilled…you may have heard this one before.

In a mixing bowl, add the cabbage, cucumber, mango, mint, and basil. Lightly dress the salad with the coconut vinaigrette, saving a bit for serving, and now it’s off to grill prawns.

Lightly drizzle oil over the prawns and gently sprinkle a bit of salt over them. Grill them for 2 minutes on each side, and look at the head side to make sure they are cooked properly. If they seem slightly opaque, cook for an additional minute on each side. Remove from the grill and let the prawns cool off at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Taste the salad. Add salt, more vinaigrette, or whatever else makes you happy. Place the dressed salad on 4 plates or 1 large platter if serving family style. Make sure the prawns aren’t hot to the touch, and place them over the salad. Drizzle a bit of the dressing over the prawns and serve.

What to drink with this recipe:

  • A Dry German Riesling
  • Rosé Champagne
  • Farmhouse Style Saison
  • A Dark and Stormy (Goslings Rum with Ginger Beer and Lime served over ice)


Excerpted from Simply Fish (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017).


4 servings