Chef's Recipes

Clarence River school prawns with cumin salt and harissa

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Clarence River school prawns with cumin salt and harissa by Matthew Gudykunst from Smolt restaurant.

By Matthew Gudykunst
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 10 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 6
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Clarence River school prawns with cumin salt and harissa
“On holiday travelling through Tasmania, my husband and I had a lovely meal at Hobart’s Smolt. Please ask Matthew Gudykunst for his harissa prawn recipe – it was superb.”
Danielle Wright, Brunswick, Vic
To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, , GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email us. All requests should include the restaurant’s name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.


  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 150 gm cornflour
  • 40 gm smoked sweet Spanish paprika
  • 400 gm green school prawns, such as Clarence River, cleaned, tails intact
  • To serve: lime wedges
  • 1 large red capsicum
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp each cumin and caraway seeds
  • ½ tbsp fennel seeds
  • 150 ml olive oil
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 50 gm tomato paste
  • ½ tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika
  • 25 ml sherry vinegar
  • ½ bunch each coriander and basil, coarsely chopped
Cumin salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp sea salt


  • 1
    For harissa, preheat oven to 160C. Heat a char-grill on high heat and char-grill capsicum, turning occasionally until skin blisters and blackens (10-15 minutes). Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set aside to cool, then peel (discard seeds). Transfer to an oven tray, add tomato and roast until tender (40-45 minutes). When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop and set aside. Cook spices in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (3-5 minutes), then pound with a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add onion, garlic and chillies and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (10-15 minutes). Add capsicum, roast tomato and tomato paste to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have broken down (35-40 minutes). Add ground spices, paprika and vinegar, season to taste and set aside to cool. Transfer to a food processor, add herbs and process until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into serving bowl. Makes about 375ml.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for cumin salt, cook spices in a small frying pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant (3-5 minutes). Transfer half into a mortar and grind with a pestle to a fine powder, then add remaining spices and coarsely grind. Transfer back to frying pan, add sea salt and cook until lightly toasted (2-3 minutes).
  • 3
    Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C. Sift cornflour into a bowl, add paprika and season to taste. Toss prawns in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then deep-fry in batches until golden and crisp (1-2 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper and season with cumin salt. Serve prawns with harissa, extra cumin salt and lime wedges.
  • Author: Matthew Gudykunst