Chefs' Recipes

Barbecued prawns with brown butter and tamari

Mat Lindsay recipe for barbecued prawns with brown butter and tamari from Ester restaurant in Sydney.

By Mat Lindsay
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Barbecued prawns with brown butter and tamari
At chef Mat Lindsay's restaurant Ester, prawns are a near-constant on the menu. And this recipe was a longtime staple at the Chippendale restaurant. It's a celebration of the beloved shellfish, with the addition of some signature Ester flair.


  • 12 large king prawns
  • 125 gm unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 tsp tamari, or to taste
  • For deep-frying: grapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 gm (2 tsp) baby salted capers, rinsed, drained, and dried on paper towels
  • To serve: lemon wedges


  • 1
    Make a covered barbecue (see note) as hot as you can. Carefully cut along the back and belly of each prawn shell from tail to head using small, thin-tipped scissors (try to avoid cutting into the flesh) and discard one side of shell. Split the underside of the head open with scissors and butterfly, then set aside.
  • 2
    Melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat until light brown (4-6 minutes; don't overcook or it will become bitter). Briefly dip base of saucepan in a bowl of cold water to cool slightly, leave for 30 seconds, then add tamari.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, heat 2cm of grapeseed oil to 180C in a small saucepan. Add capers and deep-fry until crisp (30-40 seconds; be careful, hot oil will spit). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • 4
    Brush prawns with olive oil and barbecue shell-side down and with cover closed until heads are crisp and flesh is just translucent (1½-2 minutes). Serve with brown butter, fried capers, a grind of fresh black pepper and lemon wedges.


Note If you don't have a barbecue with a lid, place an upturned metal bowl over the prawns. Chef Mat Lindsay usually cooks the prawns in a wood-fired oven, but a barbecue works well, too. Use your hands to eat these, and don't throw away the shells and heads - they add great crunch.