A prawn is a crustacean similar to a shrimp, although slightly larger in size. In some regions, the term "prawn" also may be used to refer to any type of large shrimp. Prawns can be prepared using a variety of methods, including broiling, frying and barbecuing. Barbecue prawns are typically seasoned and cooked over direct heat on a grill. They can be finished with a sauce or served with a slice of lemon at the table.
Prawns can usually be treated in the same manner that a cook would use with a shrimp, although the cooking times will typically be a little longer. Buyers who don't have a reliable local source for fresh seafood may wish to purchase frozen prawns. The prawns should be fully defrosted and rinsed well before cooking. Any seafood that looks or smells odd should be discarded. Some cooks recommend brining the prawns in a salt and sugar solution for 30 minutes to help improve the texture and taste of the final product.
Before grilling, barbecue prawns should be seasoned with salt and pepper or a blend of herbs and spices. Some recipes for barbecue prawns call for the shells to be removed, while other cooks prefer to leave the shells on to help insulate the tender flesh from the heat on the grill. Some cooks may wish to remove the intestinal tract from the prawns, particular with larger shellfish. Larger prawns can usually be placed directly on the grill, while smaller shellfish may need to be skewered or placed in a grill basket to prevent the food from falling through the grates.
In general, shellfish will cook quickly on a grill, and prawns will need to be supervised closely to keep them from burning. When barbecue prawns turn pink, they should be almost done. It is important to remove the prawns from the heat before the flesh gets overcooked and becomes tough.
Some cooks prefer to baste prawns with a barbecue sauce during the final minutes of grilling, so the sauce will heat up and caramelize. This technique can enhance the flavor and appearance of barbecue prawns. If the shells were left on the prawns, the cook can remove them before serving or let each diner peel them himself. If he chooses the second option, the cook should provide plenty of paper towels for his diners as well as empty bowls for the discarded shells. While this option can be a little messy, it can be fun for guests to shell prawns during a meal.