In my opinion, it’s not a habit to serve spaghetti and prawns with whisky. Correct me if I’m wrong. To me, whisky is that unfathomable drink, ferociously harsh and unapologetically alcoholic, which lawyers manage to knock back without even a grimace in courtroom dramas. But this unusual combination of spaghetti with prawns and whisky sauce has become a frequent habit for us. And I believe it to be very much a good habit.
There are many good habits out there which I aspire to have. Doing some morning yoga, or maybe returning to my weekly swim where I would splash up and down and up and down the length of the pool, then check the time. Often only ten minutes would have passed. Muttering darkly enough to scare the old man swimming past me I would return to the mundanity of my lengths, immediately leaping from the water like an angry wet cat as soon as 30 minutes had elapsed. Now, I can’t even bring myself to walk to the sports centre. I can’t even say that it’s far, it’s literally at the end of my road. So, one good habit, gone.
On the other hand though, Gaylord and I have started a daily sports routine. Which lasts 2 minutes. He’ll do some push ups, I’ll do some squats because I would rather like a more rounded derriere, the summer is approaching after all and we do eat a lot of brownies. We will then do the plank together for 1 minute, the comradery helping each other through the pain. If only you were a fly on the wall, dear reader. I’m sure it’s very entertaining to hear with all the panting and desperate prayers for the minute to be OVER ALREADY.
I’m fully aware there’s a long way to go before a shapely bum will morph itself onto my rump. But I must say, we feel highly empowered. And as it’s only 2 minutes, it’s a difficult good habit to break.
Likewise, my French practice. Various classes have come and gone, and while I like to think my French has improved, I don’t use it very often as everyone’s English is excellent here. We just get to the point quicker, and it’s much less painful for everyone, if my conversation partner and I talk in English. Anyway, to overcome my motivation issues, I’ve set myself a habit of Duolingo every day as I brush my teeth. It’s been a game changer. Two habits for the price of one as they say.
Without these routines – a partner in crime and a fixed must-do activity because otherwise you’re disgusting – my new habits would have been forgotten about days ago. I may be on only day 13 of my Duolingo streak, but it’s day 13 of victory to me.
Spaghetti with prawns and whisky sauce is now another to add to the list, this time an eating habit. Gaylord and I have many others (the brownies mentioned above, oh and the habit of cooking for about 4 and eating it all between us), but spaghetti, prawns and whisky is much less predictable.
The combination was Gaylord’s idea, I can’t take any credit for it. It all sounded very avant-garde to me as he pondered the idea of cooking the prawns in whisky then, later as he cooked, I watched his frying pan go up in flames. He’s French, so he’s very confident about the flambéeing part.
Along with the prawns are roughly chopped mushrooms, their subtle earthy flavour naturally complementing the whisky, and therefore making the whole dish more homogenous. Plus those infinitely useful seasonings, crushed garlic and lemon juice, unify all the ingredients, much like overly-enthusiastic camp leaders who force you to take part in ice-breakers and become friends. Once the whisky’s alcohol has bubbled away, Gaylord pours in a thick swirl of cream, tips in the tangled ribbons of spaghetti and mixes everything together, so every strand is coated in whisky sauce.
We’ve eaten this spaghetti twice in two weeks now. Which will hopefully be followed by a third time in three weeks. That’s how habits work after all.
Spaghetti with prawns and whisky sauce
- 500 g shell-on shrimp or prawns
- 200 g spaghetti
- 3 large mushrooms
- 200 ml thick cream
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ lemon
- 75-100 ml good whisky we used a Japanese one which Gaylord had in the cupboard
- Butter and oil for cooking
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- First, shell the prawns and remove their heads. Maybe eat one or two, they are too delicious to ignore. Squeeze some of the lemon juice over them to prevent them from discolouring.
- Chop the mushrooms and finely chop the garlic. Heat a pan of salted water for the pasta, and once boiling, cook according to packet instructions.
- Heat some butter or oil in a frying pan and, once sizzling, add the mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes and when they have absorbed the butter add the prawns. Cook them for another few minutes until warm. Then pour in the whisky.
- It's now time to flambée. Make sure you don't have anything flammable nearby – remove tea towels and the whisky bottle! If you're cooking on gas it will catch naturally. If you're not, use a match and quickly step back. The flames will burn out after a minute.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then add the cream, garlic and lemon. Stir and it will bubble and thicken.
- Drain the spaghetti and tip it all into the sauce. Gently stir it all together until everything is coated in creamy sauce. Divide between bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.