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Star Ingredient of the Season: Prawns

There's nothing shrimpy about the jumbo prawns at Galleria hot spot Peli Peli.

By Megha Tejpal July 6, 2015

The stunning dining room at Peli Peli at the Galleria

Star Ingredient of the Season: Prawns

Channeling my inner Bubba Gump, I am exploring shrimp—or prawns, to be more specific—as this week's seafaring star ingredient of the season. Though many people use "prawn" and "shrimp" interchangably, the two decapod crustaceans differ in one big way—their size. Living in Houston, you can enjoy your fair share of jumbo Gulf shrimp, but prawns are generally larger and are often considered a delicacy because of their size.

Like shrimp, prawns thrive in warm bodies of both fresh and salt water, making them available to us in Texas year-round. Low in saturated fats and high in protein, prawns can be an excellent addition to any dish...if you can resist dousing them in butter and oil. When eaten fresh, the hearty meat of a jumbo prawn is more than satisfying on its own, but incorporated into a wildly flavorful dish at one of Houston's best new restaurants, it gives new meaning to "star ingredient".

Those aren't lobster tails; they're tiger prawns.

In a Starring Role at: Peli Peli

The Cape Town Skillet at Peli Peli is loaded with seafood: calamari, shrimp, scallops, mussels and, most importantly, two jumbo tiger prawns perched on top. It's no doubt one of the best prawn dishes in Houston right now for both its presentation and fiery, fresh flavor. Served atop a bed of rice that's been perked up with chef Paul Friedman's signature peli peli sauce (which gets its heat from African piri piri peppers), the can be enjoyed family-style and the variety of seafood keeps the dish lighter than some of the meat-heavy options on the menu.

Peli Peli
5085 Westheimer Rd., Ste. B2515

Known as much for the captivating design of the restaurant as for its food, Peli Peli's newest location inside the Houston Galleria offers guests a stellar dining experience. The restaurant captures the essence of South Africa with authentic decor and a one-of-a-kind ceiling covered in LED lights meant to mimic the sun rising and setting throughout the day. With a trendy, yet casual vibe for lunch and an ultra hip scene at dinner, Friedman keeps the food a primary focus and encourages Houstonians to savor the melting pot of flavors of South African cuisine. From regular menu selections to seasonal cocktails, each dish is distinct and unique. 

The seasonal kiwi cocktail at Peli Peli

Image: Megha Tejpal

Reservations are recommended as its prime location inside the mall keeps the restaurant packed during lunch and dinner daily, and early evenings a popular time for happy hour. As an added bonus, diners can see how Peli Peli transformed its cozy space located within the Galleria into the brightly lit work of art it is now. A time lapse video plays in the bar detailing the entire remarkable process, a must see!



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