Peppery Garlic Prawns

My friends are so very patient with me. BFF Steve-Anna first emailed me this spicy, peppery shrimp recipe, a favorite of hers, four years ago. And then again, at least two or three more times, when I declared I couldn’t find it, and would she please-pretty-please send it again. Hey Stevie, we finally made it! Just in time for Lent.

Dang, what took us so long? Love the shrimp. It certainly packs a punch though, with all of the black pepper the recipe asks for. Feel free to cut back on the pepper to tone it down a bit. The recipe also calls for a tablespoon of brandy. This I think is an essential ingredient for the recipe. (Actually with so few ingredients, they’re all essential.) There is no substitute. If you simply cannot cook with alcohol, add a dab of butter to the olive oil. It will change the flavor of the finished dish, but it should still taste great.

Peppery Garlic Prawns Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 2-3 as a main dish, 4 as an appetizer.

Menu suggestion: Goes well over white basmati rice (be sure to drizzle extra sauce from the pan over the rice), snow peas or sugar snap peas, and some french bread to soak up the garlic sauce. If you don't like the strong black pepper taste, you can back off a bit and it's still great.



  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns*
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp brandy
  • 1 lb. raw medium-sized shrimp, shelled, de-veined and split (tails on or off)**
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

*Crushing the peppercorns can be done with a mortar and pestle. Or if you don't have a mortar and pestle, place the whole peppercorns in a small ziplock bag and place that bag inside another ziplock bag and smash with a hammer. Do this on a hard surface, if done on a wood surface, it can leave dents. The ziplock will also tear a bit, so take care not to lose the crushed pepper (why you double bag it).

** Trader Joe's has great frozen uncooked, shrimp, shelled and de-veined with tails on. To defrost frozen shrimp, place in a bowl of ice water in the refrigerator.


1 Mix together the crushed garlic, salt, crushed peppercorns, lemon juice and brandy. Add the shrimp and marinate at least an hour or up to overnight in the fridge.

2 Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add shrimp and garlic mixture and cook quickly, tossing shrimp. The longer the shrimp has been marinating, the less time it takes to cook. Cook until the shrimp has turned opaque (generally only 2-3 minutes).

Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Creamy garlic prawns from Foodilicious Malaysia
Prawn fried rice from Lydia of The Perfect Pantry

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Showing 4 of 26 Comments

  • Evelyn

    My husband and I make this recipe all the time ever since Steve-Anna introduced us to it some years ago. We just made this a few weeks ago for my mother-in-law’s Birthday. Yes it is fancy enough to serve at a dinner party, yet surprisingly quick and easy to make. We always use about 1/2 the amount of pepper and 2X the amount of garlic.

  • iga@thedelishdish

    I also buy the Trader Joe’s shrimp and have been very happy with it. I normally make it with just garlic and olive oil but I love the idea of adding peppercorns, brandy, and lemon juice!

  • Steve-Anna

    When Elise told me she and her dad were (finally!) making this recipe, I suggested they serve it over rice and have french bread on hand to soak up the sauce. She commented that her dad said there really wasn’t that much sauce, which made me pause.

    I’ve made this so many times. I must admit I don’t think I follow the recipe any more. I’d say treat the recipe as a guide, and emphasize the flavors you like. On reflection, I think I go heavy on the lemon juice and the brandy. I also butter the rice (and the bread, for that matter). Both of those things will help off-set the strong black pepper flavor.

    Elise, I’m so happy you and your dad got around to trying it!

    Hi Steve-Anna, I doubled the brandy to 2 Tbsp. We still may want to add more. ~Elise

  • Leisureguy

    Cook’s Illustrated recommends thawing the shrimp in iced brine. They claim that brining the shrimp greatly improves it.

    Great idea, thanks! ~Elise

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