BBQ Pil-Pil Prawns Recipe from the new Berber & Q Cookbook

As June approaches it’s time to step it up when it comes to outdoor eating and this new cookbook from Josh Katz (ex-Ottolenghi) offers the perfect inspiration. The founder of Haggerston Grill House, Berber & Q, Katz specialises in cooking over coals using flavours inspired by the Middle East and North Africa. Along with a step-by-step guide to barbecue cooking, there are recipes like Barbecued Cumin Lamb Chops with Anchovy Butter & Lemon Yoghurt and Smoked Chicken Thigh with Saffron and Orange Blossom that will elevate your summer suppers. This is one of our favourites from the book:


Gambas pil-pil is a dish that originates from the Basque region in Spain, consisting of prawns cooked with lots of garlic, chilli and olive oil, usually prepared in an earthenware dish and brought to the table still sizzling. There’s not a lot wrong with any of the words in that sentence.

Ask your fishmonger for the biggest prawns he can find. Make a statement. Avoid the tiny ones often used. And bread is obligatory. I say that a lot, but this time I really mean it.


8 giant black tiger prawns, or any large prawns you can find, the bigger the better

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced or grated

1tbsp chopped dill

1tsp dried chilliflakes


100ml olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½tsp salt

1tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted

1tsp ground coriander pinch of cayenne

3tbsp Confit Chilli Salsa

8–10 cherry tomatoes, quartered and deseeded


2tbsp lemon juice

2 basil leaves, finely sliced

2 slices of sourdough or ciabatta, lightly grilled on both sides (optional)


Start by deshelling the prawns, leaving the heads and tails on for aesthetic appeal. Use a small knife to create a slit and cut out the vein that runs down the back of each prawn.

Season the prawns with salt and pepper, toss them in olive oil, garlic, dill and chilli flakes, and put in the refrigerator to marinate for 2–4 hours.


Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based (preferablycast-iron) frying pan and gently sauté the garlic for 2–3 minutes, until softened and translucent but not coloured.

Remove the garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon (be sure to take out all of it and don’t leave any stragglers behind) and transfer to a mortar and pestle, leaving the cooking oil in the pan. Add the salt, cumin seeds, ground coriander and cayenne to the garlic and work the mix until it forms a paste.

Return the pan and oil to the stove top and warm over medium heat. Add the confit chilli salsa, cherry tomatoes and garlic mix, and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Turn the heat down as low as it can go and let the sauce gently bubble away and intensify in flavour whilst you finish the prawns.


Set a barbecue up for single-zone, direct grilling – ensuring that you are cooking on hot embers. Set the prawns on the grill rack directly over the burning coals, turning once or twice to colour both sides well, until the prawns are cooked all the way through, about 2–3 minutes on each side depending on the strength of your fire. Alternatively, heat a cast-iron pan over high heat until smoking hot and grill the prawns until done.

Whilst the prawns are grilling, have the pan with the pil-pil sauce set on the outer edges of the barbecue or grill to warm through.


Once cooked, transfer the prawns to the pan of pil-pil sauce and finish with the lemon juice. Garnish with the basil leaves and serve immediately. Some lightly grilled bread of any sort will be needed to mop up the pan juices.

Berber & Q by Josh Katz (Ebury Press, £25) photography by James Murphy is out on 31 May 2018.



Berber & Q Cookbook
— Daisy Allsup
30th May 2018