Friday, July 10, 2009

Cooking: Prawns with Corn and Fava Beans

Prawns  with Corn and Fava BeansWhile at a farm stand this morning, we found bags of fresh fava beans, which we're seeing all over the island this year. Later, at a produce stand that sets up on Fridays and Saturdays, we found the first luscious, fresh sweet corn of the season. My old Ohio farm roots kicked in, and I thought "Succotash!"

Traditionally, succotash is a melange of corn and lima beans. Why not use the favas, though? Sure, they're a little work to prepare, because you first remove them from the pods, then blanch them, then slip off the tough outer skins to reveal the incredibly green goodness inside. These were so fresh that if I had been puréeing them (mixed with lemon juice, salt and pepper) I might have left the skins on.

We sat on the front porch, shelling the beans, something I did countless times with my grandmother when I was a child. In those days, it was first peas, then lima beans, then "shelly" beans, which were then dried for winter consumption. I have a lot of fond memories of sitting on the old glider liberating the legumes from their pods.

We don't have a glider, and we don't have a farm, and we didn't grow the beans ourselves, but it was still pretty satisfying to sit there with my sweetie, watching the birds and doing something productive.

The thing about fava beans is you need a lot of them to end up with anything. Five pounds of beans in the pod may only yield two pounds of shelled, peeled favas, which is why I usually pair them with other things when we buy them.

Prawns with Corn and Fava Bean Succotash
serves 2

olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 small jalapeño pepper, minced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds fresh fava beans (unshelled weight)
4 small ears fresh corn, cut off the cobs
1/2 pound large prawns (about 8), peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 ripe avocado, cubed

Prepare the fava beans by shelling them. Remove the nibs unless your beans are very small. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add a lot of salt, then dump in the beans. Bring back to the boil, then boil for 1 minute. Remove the beans to a bowl of water with some ice in it to stop the cooking. When cooled, remove the outer skins. Small, fresh beans may not need this step; eat one and see. To remove skins from larger beans, pinch a small hole in one end (the skin will have become slightly elastic), then squeeze the bright green bean out of the skin. Set aside.

In a 12 in non-stick skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. While it's heating, pat the peeled shrimp dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

When the oil is hot, slide in the garlic and jalapeño and cook for 1/2 minute. Add the corn kernels, season with salt and pepper, and turn the corn so it gets coated with the oil and the garlic isn't all trapped on the bottom, where it can burn. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the corn becomes less milky looking. You can cook the corn until it starts to caramelize, if you like, but for this dish I just wanted a fresh corn taste.

Gently stir in the peeled fava beans and mix them in. Cook for one minute more, or until the beans are tender (taste one). Push everything to one side of the pan.

Drizzle a little more olive oil in the empty part of the skillet, let it heat up, then lay in the prawns. Sprinkle them with the grated orange zest. Cook about 2-3 minutes, then turn them over. Continue cooking for just 1-2 minutes, or until they are opaque and firm. Turn off the heat.

Pile some of the succotash in the middle of a plate and top with the prawns. Garnish with avocado.

This was delicious as is. Add fresh herbs or a squeeze of fresh lime juice for another twist.

Fava Beans

1 comment:

  1. oh my god, that's just so amazing. I've never had fava beans, so I'll have to try them. Thanks Richard!