These little temptations are seriously moreish. Their subtly spiced filling of garlicky, roughly diced prawns is fired by Thai bird’s eye chilies and wrapped in buttery puff pastry. Pair them with our coconut and cilantro relish for an irresistible appetizer.
Casually elegant and delightfully indulgent in a rather grown-up way, this is a lovely way to start a meal on a sunny day with good company and refreshingly chilled drinks.
Our party-time pastries are splendid on their own, but they’re even better when served with a contrasting, tart-and-sweet relish made with cilantro, coconut, cumin, lemon juice, and fresh green serrano pepper.
In tropical Goa on the west coast of India, these seafood-filled treats are known as prawn pattice, and they’re often baked as mini pies in something akin to a muffin tray.
That sounds like a great way to make them, but I like the triple-crunch of pastry that you get from the crisped corners of a triangular shape similar to a samosa.
What matters way more than how you form your pattice are the choices you make about two key ingredients – the shellfish and the pastry.
Selecting the right shellfish
Some people call them prawns, others saltwater shrimp, and they come in different colors and sizes. Far more important than any of that is how they taste. And that can vary enormously. It can range from things that have less savor than slightly salty kitchen towels to others that have a clean, briny, richly delicate flavor like butter spread on a slice of the sparkling blue sea.
That’s the sort you need here. And that’s why buying them from a fishmonger is such a wise move – you can explain how you’ll cook them and be guided accordingly at the counter.
My preference, partly motivated by convenience, is to go for a full-flavored, individually frozen variety that comes shell-on, with the head and ‘vein’ removed. Size? Well, the ones I used were about three inches long, with bodies around a half-inch thick at their widest point.
Another bonus is that prawns like that are generally less expensive than fresh ones. Those come with a much lower shelf-life and, typically, a higher price.
Picking the proper pastry
Using prawns that score high marks for flavor is essential because they’re the centerpiece in your filling, and you most certainly want to enjoy their wonderfully oceanic taste.
In terms of using fine ingredients to produce fine results, the quality of your pastry comes second only to the quality of the prawns. That means using all-butter puff pastry, a pastry that will enhance the filling’s flavor rather than detract from it.
Now, store-bought and frozen is dandy as long as it’s got that ‘all-butter’ tag on the wrapper. And there’s an excellent reason for making that choice: butter and prawns are a marriage made in heaven.
Maxing the flavor of your shellfish filling
There’s always a fair amount of briny flavor in the shells, which is why I always like to cook with shell-on prawns.
Some super-speedy sizzling in a little hot coconut oil is all it takes to pull the flavor from the shells. Once they’ve cooled, you can peel the prawns, so they’re ready to be prepped. You’ll then use the flavorsome oil to gently fry your filling’s remaining ingredients, the bird’s eye chili, red onion, garlic, garam masala, and turmeric.
That gentle frying happens slowly over a meltingly low heat so that the onion, garlic, and chili become nicely softened, and the spices begin to release their flavors.
These little touches of fairly careful cooking will reward you with a platter of pattice bursting with flavors to delight your guests.
Like this recipe? You’ll love these too:
- Thai Seafood Curry: A delicious mix of seafood, papaya, tamarind, and so much more.
- Chorizo And Shrimp Fettuccine With Pomodoro Sauce: Fiery chorizo and meaty shrimp are a delicious pairing.
- Creamy Seafood Gratin: Perfect comfort food in our book.
Goan Prawn Pattice with Coconut and Cilantro Relish
For the pattice filling
- 2 red Thai bird’s eye chilies fresh, finely chopped, seeds and all. The ones I used were each about 2 inches long.
- 9 ounces uncooked prawns shell-on with heads and vein removed. Frozen are grand, and that’s what I used once they’d defrosted and thoroughly drained in a colander.
- 1 red onion medium sized, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
- Juice and flesh from 1 medium size lemon
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
For the pastry
- 14 ounces all-butter puff pastry I used a frozen pack that comes ready-rolled in a single sheet, and let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight. I was able to cut that sheet of pastry into 18 squares, each 3 inches by 3 inches.
- 1 heaped tablespoon all-purpose flour for dusting the work surface on which you will form the pattice
- 1 egg beaten with a with 2 teaspoons heavy cream – to glaze the pattice right before you bake them.
- A little cold water – to moisten the edges of the pastry squares before you seal them shut.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil – to grease the tray on which you’ll bake the pattice.
For the coconut and cilantro relish
- 2 green serrano peppers finely chopped, seeds and all
- 2 ounces fresh cilantro stalks and all
- 2 ounces unsweetened coconut flakes or unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
- Juice and flesh of 2 medium size fresh limes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil melted
- ½ cup boiling water
Making the filling
- This begins by giving the shell-on prawns some hot-and-fast, flavor-boosting frying. To do this, use a skillet that’s big enough to hold all the prawns in a single, evenly spaced layer.
- Set your skillet on a high heat and add 1 level tablespoon coconut oil. As soon as the oil starts shimmering, stir in the prawns so they get coated all over with the oil. Let them sizzle on that high heat for 30 seconds, then flip them all so they can sizzle for another 30 seconds and then turn off the heat.
- Quick as you can, use a slotted spoon to remove the prawns and set them aside on a plate to cool. The prawns will have picked up a little darkening pink color and the oil will have been infused with flavor from the shells. Good. The prawns aren’t yet cooked through but will do so when you bake your pattice in the oven.
- Now add another level tablespoon of coconut oil to the slightly oily skillet. Set the skillet on a low heat and stir in the onion, garlic, chilli, garam masala, turmeric, and salt.
- Now you want to gently stir-fry the mix on that low heat for about 5 minutes until the onion softens and loses almost all its body. Once that has happened, the garlic and chili will have also become sufficiently softened.
- And that’s all the cooking finished for the filling. All that remains to be done is to prep the prawns and then add them to your fried mix along with the lemon juice.
- So, peel the prawns and discard the shells. Chop the prawns into 1/3-inch dice and add them to the skillet. Pour in the lemon juice and give the whole lot a thorough but gentle stir. That’s it. Your filling is finished. Time now to sort out the pastry and get your pattice ready for baking.
Making and baking the pattice
- Lay the sheet of puff pastry on a work surface dusted with flour – this stops it sticking. Now use a sharp knife to cut the sheet into 3-inch squares. You’re now ready to start filling and forming the pattice.
- Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling into the centre of a pastry square. Use your fingers to create a mound of filling that will allow you to fold the pastry over it to create a triangle. Once you’ve formed that mound, use a fingertip dipped in cold water to moisten the edges of the pastry. Now fold the pastry and gently press down around the two edges to create a seal between their top and bottom. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry squares.
- Place the formed pattice on a large plate and set them to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Turn your oven to 400 F / 200 C and place a shelf in the middle. To bake your pattice, you’ll need a large, flat baking tray evenly coated with a level tablespoon of coconut oil. And keep the tray out of the oven – don’t let it heat.
- Once the oven has come up to temperature, arrange the pattice on your cold, oiled baking tray. Now use a pastry brush to give the tops of the pattice a thin, even coating of the egg-and-cream glaze. This will give them a lovely pale golden sheen as they bake, so do make sure you brush their tops all over with a thin coating of the glaze.
- Once that’s done, set the tray in your 400 F / 200 C oven and let the pattice bake for 15 minutes. That’s it. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove them from the tray and arrange them on a suitably elegant serving dish.
Making the relish
- You can do this while the pattice are chilling and your oven’s heating.
- Now, while taking a little patient care over the pattice pays big flavor dividends, your food processor does all the work that’s needed to make the relish.
- So, simply add all the ingredient to the processor and blitz until you have an even-textured, chutney-like relish. Turn it into a pretty bowl and it’s ready for serving alongside your pattice.