A no-guilt affair

Sometimes the girl does get the grill.

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click to enlarge WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY: The mouse will play with some beady-eyed prawns. - Jaden Hair
Jaden Hair
WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY: The mouse will play with some beady-eyed prawns.

Three weeks ago, my husband tromped off to Vegas for a vacation with his poker buddies. I was naughty. I had an affair.

After hearing the garage door close, I peeked out the window and waited 15 minutes to make sure he didn't return, in case he forgot something. Then I tiptoed to the back door.

With one hand on the knob and the other pressed against the warmth of the door, I paused briefly to collect my breath. I turned the knob slowly and my toe tentatively nudged the door open. It was still early, and the morning light reached through the crack of the door to help me open it the rest of the way.

My love was waiting.

I stepped toward him and felt my heart flutter with anticipation and longing. Words were not necessary — we already knew what was about to happen. My hands deftly removed his canvas weather protection jacket and threw it on the ground, not caring where it landed.

How handsome he was. So massive. 68,000 BTUs, a beautiful side burner, and he was all mine for five days.

Husband doesn't let me touch his outdoor grill. I am only allowed to uncover the beast, turn on the propane tank and preheat. That's it. Any more and I've violated Section 10.4.5b of our Marital Contract. And I totally get that, because I wouldn't want him rearranging my Tupperware drawer. But he got to go to Vegas while I had to stay home with the kids. Since this particular travel situation was not covered in our contract, I took the liberty to amend the terms.

Grilled Prawns with Szechuan Peppercorn Salt is so deliriously easy and quick that I don't feel even a tinge of guilt for having the affair.

The difference between "prawn" and "shrimp"

Generally, prawn refers to freshwater shrimp. But in this country, the terms are pretty interchangeable. I found these huge prawns in the freezer at the Asian market, $15 for a 2-pound box.

Szechuan what?

The Szechuan peppercorn is really not a peppercorn at all — it's a berry from a bush that will make your tongue and lips tingle and go numb. Yes, it's legal. No, you can't snort it. SZP is woodsy, citrusy and incredibly aromatic when dry-roasted.

Combine SZP with salt to make a "dipping salt" for any dish that needs a little kick in the pants. Cooking Chinese? Sprinkle some SZP salt to finish any dish. I also love seasoning my steaks with this instead of the standard salt and pepper prior to grilling.Grilled Prawns

Skewer each large prawn lengthwise, which prevents them from curling up on the grill. If you are using smaller shrimp, keep the shell intact and use three to four per skewer. Keep a nice space between the prawns so that the flame can lick each evenly. To eat, unpeel the grilled shrimp and lightly dip into the salt. You can substitute any flavored sea salt. Serves four to six2 lbs. prawns/shrimp, shell on Skewers1/2 cup Szechuan Peppercorn Salt

1. Preheat your grill on high heat. In the meantime, make your Szechuan Peppercorn Salt and skewer the prawns.

2. Grill one to two minutes per side, depending on the size of your prawns. Serve with the Szechuan Peppercorn Salt as a dipping salt.

Szechuan Peppercorn Salt1/4 cup Szechuan peppercorns1/4 cup sea salt

In skillet on medium heat, dry-roast the peppercorns for five minutes, shaking pan frequently to avoid burning. Combine peppercorns and sea salt in food processor or spice grinder. Pulse five to eight times.

Jaden Hair blogs at steamykitchen.com.

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