Noche Buena is a traditional celebration in the Philippines. Literally meaning “Good Night”, this usually entails families gathering on the eve of Christmas for a late family meal. Growing up, I had two Noche Buenas. The first one was celebrated with my Dad’s family and the second and later one, with my Mom’s. For Noche Buena with my Dad’s relatives we would spend each year in his sister’s house. My Tita Bebe (my father’s elder sister) would prepare a fantastic feast but the one dish that really stood out for me were the Prawns Thermidor. I’ve always associated this dish as being so decadent and festive. She would prepare this dish by
- removing the prawn meat but keeping the shells whole
- preparing the thermidor sauce and adding the prawn meat
- stuffing the prawn thermidor into the shells
- and finally baking them
You can imagine what a laborious process, especially when feeding her family and friends, but I guess she really only had to do it once a year!
When I moved to Sydney and was going to spend our first Christmas away from Manila, I immediately emailed my Aunt for the recipe. Since then, it has been one of my staple dishes – it’s a sure crowd pleaser and if you are not inclined to stuff the prawns, just place it in a festive serving dish. So here’s my favourite Noche Buena dish. Enjoy! And as we say in the Philippines – Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)
Recipe (serves 5 as part of several main dishes)
- 10 king prawns
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
- 5 to 10 button mushrooms (depending on size), diced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup cheese (I used parmesan and gruyere)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the prawn meat from the prawns by placing the prawn on a chopping board (eyes facing upwards), cutting the prawns in the middle with knife, or use scissors. Carefully remove the prawn meat, keeping the shells intact.
- Once the meat is removed, cut into bite sized pieces.
- Heat the olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the carrot and celery stalk and cook until soft, around 5 minutes.
- Next, add the red pepper and saute until soft, around 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for around 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the while wine and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add in the flour and cook out for 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly add in the milk until the mixture thickens.
- Lastly, add the prawn meat and heat until just cooked.
- Cool the mixture and then stuff the prawn shells with the cooled prawn thermidor sauce (if you are not stuffing shells, just place in a serving dish)
- Top with cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 180c (fan forced for 15 minutes).
Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.
Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.
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