Friday, 26 January 2007

prawns, not shrimp!

Paul Hogan has a lot to answer for. So does the Australian Tourist Commission.

In 1986 Crocodile Dundee was the world’s number one box office movie and Hogan shot to fame as 'Mick Dundee'. The film that cost $10 million to make was aimed at American audiences but became popular in many countries providing many people with their first (very warped) glimpse of Australia.

The same year the Australian Tourist Commission then hired Hogan to star in a TV ad trying to encourage Americans tourists to travel to Australia. Hogan stood in front of the Sydney Opera House with a view over the harbour and uttered the most toxic words that have haunted Australians ever since "I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you."

Since 1986 Americans have been reciting these lines back Australians. I have suffered greatly from this. I hate Paul Hogan and I hate the ATC.

It’s not really the Americans' fault: I mean we’re the ones that made them believe this is the kind of stupid thing we say!

But today, on Australia Day – Australia’s national holiday – I must set the record straight and tell all my American friends that the word shrimp does not exist in Australia.

It’s prawn. P-R-A-W-N. Prawn.

Not shrimp. No shrimp. Never shrimp.

During last week's Weekend Herb Blogging post I talked about chillies in general. This week it's specifically the ancho chilli.

I love it how the Mexicans have one name for a fresh chilli ie poblano or jalepeno and then a completely new name for that same chilli in a dried state ie ancho or chipotle.

It just goes to show they’re connoisseurs when it comes to the hot stuff, since the drying process has an effect on the sugar components of chillies creating an extra strong flavour.

Ancho chillies are dried poblanos and are dark in colour. They have a sweet, smoky, coffee and cocoa flavour (some people think they taste like dried fruit too) and are quite mild on the chilli heat scale. They are used in many traditional recipes like Camarones en Pipian - a Mexican recipe that I, a first generation Australian, cooked for a Japanese friend.

That’s what Australia is all about!

This week Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Ed at Tomato. This is very fitting because Ed lives in Melbourne - one of Australia's great cities, famous for it's good food, bohemian art and it's healthy disdain of Sydney!

So g’day wherever you are, chuck a prawn on the barbie, open a tinny and say “bottoms up” to the land down under.

Happy Australia Day!

Camarones en Pipian

Recipe from Jane Milton’s ‘Mexican’. Serves 6.
1 ancho (dried poblano chilli)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup ground almonds
¾ cup crème fraîche
1 lime
1kg prawns, cooked and peeled
Coriander, lime wedges, rice and tortillas to serve

1. In a heatproof bowl, cover the ancho with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain, remove the stem, slit the chilli and remove the seeds then chop the flesh and set aside.
2. Score the skin on the bottom of each tomato then place in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. After 3 minutes remove and refresh in cold water. Drain and peel the skins. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp then chop the flesh into cubes.
3. Heat oil in a pan then sauté the onion and garlic until soft.
4. Add tomato flesh, chilli and cumin. Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
5. Put mixture in a processor or blender, add stock and process till smooth.
6. Pour mixture into a pot, add the ground almonds and stir over low heat for 2 minutes.
7. Stir in crème fraîche until it has been incorporated completely.
8. Squeeze the juice from the lime and stir into the sauce. Season to taste then turn the heat up and bring the sauce to boiling point.
9. Add the shrimp and heat for 2 minutes until warmed through.
10. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, lime wedges and tortillas.

I hope you all enjoy this dish as much as Taka did!!!

Anna’s Australian inspired food:
Chilled Mulled Riesling
Honey-Vodka Poached Mandarins
Kangaroo w Quandong Glaze
Moreton Bay Bugs w Donut Peach Salsa
Pavlova Martini
Sydney Rock Oysters w Greek Salad Smoothies
Tomato Chilli Jam

Australian Slang (Strine):
Dictionary of Aussie Terms

Australian History & Facts:
CIA Factbook



  1. In England the tiny weeny little ones with no heads or shells, curled up in a circular dhape are actually called shrimp and then anything bigger than that (up until the size of a langoustine) are all called prawns.

    despite living in the us - I still can't help but call them prawns

  2. That movie was great back in the day...hasn't held up very well over time ;)

  3. Grab a beer from the esky for me! Happy Australia Day, I wish I was there!

  4. As Sam said, people call shrimp or prawn very much dependin gon their size. Anna, your camarones en Pipian really gorgeous, the flavor definitely wonderful! And I always admire your rich knowledge on many ingredients over the world!
    And thank you so much for including my cookies (with such a nice comment) in your recipe carousel!

  5. It was fantastic!!
    I really enjoyed it!!
    I think coconut is the key...

  6. Oh!
    Finally I made it!
    I haven't written so far.
    OK, I often come to check here!

  7. Didn't know that about the shrimp/prawns. I guess I thought that only really big shrimp were called prawns. The only part of that movie that I remember was when he said "Now that's a knife." I was NOT a fan. (To tell the truth I hate dumb movies like that, but apologies to all those millions of people who like mindless entertainment. I hope I don't sound like a snob.)

  8. How can you not like Crocodile Dundee? It's what made me move to Australia!!! Dumb movies make the world go round.

  9. Anchos in the UK??.... Look no further than the Mexican Food specialits :

    They've got loads of products that I love love love. The best range of authentic Mexican foods & chillies.

    Check them out folks! Saludos!!


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