What could possibly be more australian? “Throw another shrimp on the barbie!”
But hang on, Australians would never use the term shrimp to describe their favourite Christmas crustaceans, prawns is the vernacular saying. So ingrained into the cultural identity of this great land, could it be that this little turn of phrase, ushering up images of social gatherings under the unfailing light of the golden outback sun, partaking of the abundant bounty of this land girt by sea, and national treasure Paul Hogan wrestling a croc in a billabong out the back blocks of who-even-knows-or-gives-a-fuck bush; could it be that it’s not what it seems? I my friends, can smell a lie like a fart in a car! And this little nugget is ripe indeed!
So this digger did some digging. Not much mind you, to be fair I’m really not that motivated, so if Wikipedia tells me it is so, then for all I care, it is! What I unearthed in the full 5 seconds it took me to search this saying was a little surprising I must say. Now there will be those of you out there who are probably old enough to remember the induction of this wee phrase into popular culture, perhaps not so much if you were actually an Australian however……..
Those of you who grew up in America watching TV during the 80’s (everyone) will also recall that “Throw another shrimp on the barbie” isn’t even the original expression. Thats right, you’re whole life up to this point has been a lie!
Now for the bitter truth; from 1984 until 1990 an unknown (in America) Australian icon in the making, Paul (Crocodile Dundee) Hogan, in his pre-croc wrestling, “she’ll-be-right”, “this is a fucken knife” years, acted in a series of television advertisements filmed by the Australian Tourism Commission in an effort to lift Australia’s dismal ranking as #78 on americans “most desirable holiday destinations” list. The advert featured a well tanned Hogan inviting Americans to “come say g’day” followed abruptly by the infamous, actual saying “I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for ya!”………. I know right? Paul Hogan would never casually refer to a prawn as a fucking shrimp! No self respecting Aussie would (or Kiwi just by the way), thats what an American would call it. This conspiracy goes right to the top! I ask you Australia, if you can’t even trust old Mick Dundee, is there nothing right and wholesome in the world? Your own government sold you out in the 80’s to rich Americans, trading in your precious “prawns” for their poxy “shrimps” at the first sniff of grubby US dollars! For shame Paul.
“Throw another shrimp on the barbie” is therefore the pustular remnants of a malignant tumour that erupted from the insidious mind of some crook with his hands firmly wrapped around the golden phallus of American tourism spending, and being that it is considered internationally to be an integral part of the Australian vernacular, makes a mockery of this once proud nation, and one of her proud peoples most treasured sea borne summer snacks!
In keeping with things altogether un-Australian, here is my recipe for Chinese style black pepper bbq prawns. This dish was inspired by a ridiculously good meal we had while in Sydney over new years and chef Dan Hong’s flagship, 200 seater, heaving goliath of a restaurant Mr Wong.
Black Pepper Sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
- 4 cm piece of ginger peeled and chopped
- 1 shallot peeled and chopped
- 1 coriander root washed and chopped
- 2 tsp black peppercorns toasted and ground
- 3 cloves roasted and ground
- 1 star anise toasted and ground
- ½ tsp 5 spice powder
- 1 cup shao xing chinese cooking wine
- 1/3 cup oyster sauce
- ½ cup light soy sauce
- 1 Tblsp kecap manis
- 2 Tblsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 cup water
In a medium pot heat 1 Tblsp of oil and sautee the garlic, ginger, coriander root and shallots until fragrant. Next add spices and cook for one minute and then deglaze the pan with the cooking wine making sure to scrape all the caramelized goodness off the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring your sauce up to the boil. Make a slurry by mixing 1 Tblsp of cornflour with 1/3 cup of hot water and whisk into the boiling sauce to thicken. Once your bubbling pot of delicious black goop is thickened to your satisfaction, take it off the heat and put aside until your ready to eat.
- 500g tiger prawns
- 3 spring onions
- 1 small handful of picked coriander leaves
- black pepper sauce
Fire up the barbie mate! Peel the shells from the prawns (shrimps) but leave the heads on. This is a personal preference but trust me when I say that all that dirty shit in the heads is the best part of the prawn. Do yourself a favour and cook them up, suck out the head juice, and give it a go! Coat the dirty little sea cockroaches in oil and throw that shrimp (prawn) on the barbie. Season with a little salt and cook gently.
Cut the white parts from the spring onion and chop into 2 cm batons and chargrill them on the BBQ. Take the green ends of the spring onion and flatten them out and cut very finely on an angle. Throw these slices into icy water and rub vigorously until they curl up. Remove the greens from the water and dry on a paper towel.
Once the prawns and spring onion whites are cooked, remove them from the heat and arrange on your plate. Dress with liberal amounts of hot black pepper sauce and sprinkle with coriander. Now get your laughing gear around that one mate!
The left over sauce is great for any seafood dishes, and also beef or lamb, and should keep for well over a week in the fridge. Enjoy!