• Grilled king prawns with kombu butter ( Dan Hong)Source: Dan Hong

Grilled seafood is an Australian birthright. This dish takes the classic grilled prawn and pimps the umami factor with kombu butter and shellfish oil.






Skill level

Average: 4 (61 votes)


Kombu butter 

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 40 g (1½ oz) shio kombu, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1½ tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ bunch coriander (cilantro) stems, finely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stems, pale part only, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, finely chopped

The rest

  • 10 large raw king prawns (shrimp), split in half lengthways, digestive tract removed
  • mixed chopped herbs from above, to garnish
  • 2½ tbsp shellfish oil (see below)
  • lime wedges, to serve

Shellfish oil

  • 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) grapeseed oil
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) raw prawn (shrimp) shells
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • 10 star anise
  • 200 g (7 oz) tomato paste (concentrated purée)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


The shellfish oil will take 3 hours to cook and prepare.

Shellfish oil standing time 1 hour


Put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip at a high speed for 10 minutes, or until it becomes pale and aerated. Reserve a big pinch of each of the chopped herbs, which will be used to garnish. Turn the mixer down to its lowest speed and add the remaining ingredients one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Preheat the oven to 250°C (500°F/Gas 9). Lay the prawns on a baking tray, shell side down. Season with salt and put in the oven for 2½ minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and spoon a thick layer of kombu butter on each prawn. Bake for another 2½ minutes. To serve, top each prawn with some chopped herbs and drizzle with shellfish oil. Serve with lime wedges.


To make shellfish oil
Makes about 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups)

Put a heavy wide-based saucepan over a high heat. When hot, add 4 tablespons of the oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the prawn shells. Do not stir for at least 2 minutes (if you stir them straight away, a lot of the heat will be lost and the shells will start to stew rather than caramelise).

After 2 minutes you will start to smell that really appetising aroma of roasted prawns and you can stir the mix to further caramelise the shells. After about 5 minutes, the shells should have a nice deep red colour. Add the garlic and star anise, and stir in the tomato paste. Turn the heat down to medium.

Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rest of the oil and turn the heat down to the lowest it can go. Simmer for 3 hours, remembering to scrape the bottom of the pan often, as the mixture will catch.

Strain everything through a fine sieve and leave the liquid to settle for 1 hour. All the sediment will sink to the bottom during this time. Strain the liquid a second time and carefully decant the mixture into a sterilised jar. Stop pouring when you reach the sediment. This sediment (which I call ‘shellfish essence’) can be used as a base for a shellfish sauce or dressing. You can store the shellfish oil in the fridge, covered, for up to 6 months.


Recipe and image from Mr Hong by Dan Hong (Murdoch Books) $49.99 available now.