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Maya Prawns with Chipotle Mezcal Sauce Recipe

Slathered in a chipotle mezcal sauce, these grilled prawns manage to be refreshing and smoky at the same time.
Maya Prawns with Chipotle Mezcal Sauce Recipe

Try not to overcook the prawns. Watch closely as they go from translucent to opaque, and touch them to make sure they're just firm. There's nothing sadder than rubbery shrimp.

Servings: 6
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 24 hours


for the chipotle mezcal sauce:
1 cup chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup mezcal
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

for the prawns:
2 bunches beet greens, washed well
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup Chipotle Mezcal Sauce
2 pounds Maya prawns or extra-large head-on shrimp (U10 or U12), shells slit down the back but left on, veins removed
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
½ cup thinly sliced radishes
3 mandarin oranges or clementines, suprêmed



1. Make the chipotle mezcal sauce: Combine all the ingredients and 1/3 cup of water in a blender and blend on high until smooth, adding more water if needed.

2. Remove the stems from 1 bunch of beet greens. Put the greens in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the salt, and massage into the greens. Let sit for about 30 minutes, or until wilted.

3. Drain the greens and place in a clean large bowl. Add the carrot, scallions, garlic, and ¾ cup of the chipotle mezcal sauce and mix well. Transfer to a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

4. Prepare a grill for high heat. (Prawns should be cooked quickly, so you need to have the embers going.)

5. Put the prawns in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the chile powder, and mix well. Oil the grill grate and grill the prawns until the flesh is just opaque and nice grill marks have formed, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the heat and let cool.

6. While the prawns cool, put the cucumbers in a small bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

7. Remove the stems from the second bunch of beet greens and put the greens in a large bowl. Add the wilted beet greens and mix well.

8. Divide the cucumber among six plates. Arrange the beet greens on top of the cucumber and scatter the radishes and mandarin oranges over them. Place the prawns on top and drizzle with the olive oil and the remaining ¼ cup of sauce.

Author's Note: Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.