A Hot Cajun Appetizer with a South African Twist
- 1 ½ tbsp. butter or olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 green pepper cored and diced
- 1 pound Prawn meat chopped
- 1 ear corn kernels only
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tbsp. Peri Peri spice
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- ½ tbsp. oregano
- salt and pepper
- 8 oz. cream cheese softened at room temperature
- ½ cup plain yogurt or mayonnaise
- 2 cups sharp cheddar finely shredded
- ½ cup mozzarella finely shredded
- ½ lemon juiced
- sliced green onion or handful chopped coriander/cilantro for garnish
- cutting board
- oven-safe sauté pan like this Le Crueset pan or a cast iron skillet (alternatively sauté pan and oven-safe dish)
- mixing bowl
- spatula or wooden spoon
- If using frozen prawn or shrimp, thaw under cold water, devein, deshell, and clean.
- Dice onion, green pepper, mince garlic, and remove kernels from corn ear.
- Heat oil or butter in skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and green pepper, cook for 4 minutes.
- Add garlic, prawns, corn kernels, Piri Piri spice, paprika, salt and pepper and saute for 4 minutes.
- Add oregano and let cook for another minute.
- Cover and rest.
- Pre-heat oven to 400?
- In a mixing bowl: blend cream cheese, yogurt, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Fold together prawn mix with cheese mix.
- Pour into oven-safe backing dish.
- Bake in oven for 15 minutes until bubbling.
- Garnish with green onion and cilantro.
- Serve with sliced baguette, crackers, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots, and/or cucumber.
Peri Peri Prawn Dip Inspiration
I came up with this Peri-Peri Prawn Dip recipe while planning a Feast of Seven Fishes Christmas menu in the height of summer in South Africa. Being from the South in the US, a delicious Crab Dip is a popular appetizer for parties. The caveat is crab is not readily available in the Western Cape of South Africa and neither is Creole or Cajun seasoning. Adapting and working with local seasonal ingredients will always make food taste better. So, feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever is readily available to you.
When looking for inspiration for an easy dish to prep ahead then heat and eat I stumbled on this Louisiana Shrimp Dip from Delish. While we may not have Creole or Cajun seasoning, Peri-Peri spice is an African staple. You will find this condiment at most restaurants and spice cupboards and my friends like their food with a kick. We go through countless chilis and Peri-Peri sauces, we love our food to be tasty and have that chili bite.
If Peri-Peri spice is not available don’t fret, there are plenty of other substitutes. Tabasco, Jalapenos; Chili, Paprika, oregano, garlic powders with a squeeze of lemon. The idea of this dish is a spicy, cheesy, substantial dip. Don’t shy away from the heat, it gets toned down with the cream cheese, yogurt and cheese. This can also become a vegetarian using mushrooms or cauliflower, but make sure to cook them first and drain the liquids off.
The addition of the green bell peppers, an ode to the holy trifecta of Creole cooking, and the addition of corn kernels pairs well with crab, shrimp, prawns and creaminess (think thick crab chowder with cheesy goodness).
What is Peri-Peri made of?
Peri-Peri sauce is made up of African Birdseye chilis, salt, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and lemon juice and is meant to be chunky, not a smooth hot sauce like Chalula or Tabasco. For Peri-Peri dried spice blend like the one, I used in the recipe, a blend of smoked paprika, salt, sugar, garlic, and dried chilis. This is excellent for a dry rub or something that already has liquid to it.
History of Peri-Peri?
Peri-Peri spice is a staple condiment and seasoning in African kitchens. Piri Piri or Peri-Peri or Pili-Pili translates to pepper-pepper in Swahili. This African Birds Eye chili is not native to Africa but was imported by the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers in the 1600’s. Peri-Peri sauce origins have been traced back to Mozambique traditionally marinating chicken and seafood such as prawns or fish. Peri-Peri became wildly popular and well-known internationally largely due to the success of Nando’s Chicken chain that originated in Johannesburg, South Africa in the 1980’s.
Trust me, this Peri-Peri Prawn Dip is an absolute crowd-pleaser and the only thing dish on the table with zero leftovers. It was completely devoured. If you are looking to take this appetizer to a hearty side dish or main here are some fantastic suggestions with how to do that.
Alternative Serving Suggestions:
Stuffed Jalapenos: stuff jalapenos with cool mix and bake for 15 minutes.
Pasta a la prawn Macaroni and Cheese: Boil pasta, mix with cheese and into the oven for decadent mac and cheese.
Prawn stuffed jacket potatoes: slice baked potatoes and fill with cheese mix, bake.
Keto Cauliflower gratin: add cauliflower florets and bake.