King prawns with aioli

by Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown recreates her favourite dish from home—Sydney, Australia

Whole king prawns from the Sydney Fish Market are cooked live in seawater. To recreate this flavour, I cook the prawns in heavily salted water. It’s pretty close to the real thing. Trickier is my dad’s “benchmark” aioli. My friend Dash gave it this name—neither of us have tried a better one. I think the key is the amount of garlic—obscene—and a mix of roasted and raw. Mine still doesn’t quite match up to dad’s (I’m sure there’s something he’s not telling me), but it’s almost there.

Read the article that inspired me to recreate this recipe here


8 tbsp salt
1kg whole raw king prawns in their shells
1 bulb of garlic
1 egg yolk
100ml vegetable oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 180C. Bring 3 litres of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Dissolve the salt in it. Add the prawns and cook for a few mins, or until they start to float to the top of the water. Put in the fridge to chill.

Remove one small clove of garlic from the bulb and put the rest in the oven. Roast for approximately 20 mins until the skin is brown and the cloves are tender. Remove and leave to cool. Finely chop the small clove of raw garlic.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk in a bowl and very, very slowly add small drizzles of oil. Don’t add any more until the last drizzle is incorporated. It is best to let it drizzle down the side of the bowl so it enters the yolk slowly. Once it starts to thicken, you can start adding a little more oil—but don’t be tempted to add too much; you may still split it.

Once you have added all the oil, stir in the Dijon and lemon juice. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin, discard the skin and mash the flesh with a fork. Add to the mayonnaise along with the raw garlic and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve the prawns whole in their shell with aioli to dip. A finger bowl with water and lemon and an empty bowl for shells is a good idea.

Recipe & images: Victoria Brown