It’s that time of year again, people! Spot Prawns are back in season and they are more sweet, succulent and juicy than I remembered <3
Spot prawn season typically begins in early May and lasts for about six to eight weeks. Spot prawns are delicious, sweet prawns that are orange in colour and have little white spots on their bodies, mainly around their heads and tails. They are harvested just off the coast of BC during the prawning season using baited traps and are the largest variety of prawns that are harvested in BC. The cold, nutrient rich waters of the BC coast make these prawns sweet, succulent and very clean in taste compared to the typical frozen Tiger Shrimp variety. The meat is very tender and juicy, and has the texture of both a lobster tail and a shrimp combined. Sounds amazing right?!
A squeeze of lemon brings out all the fresh flavours in these BC Spot Prawns!
Since the season is so short, I love to eat as much spot prawns as I can. I always buy my spot prawns alive and cook them at home (just like making lobster). When you are looking to buy live spot prawns, make sure that they are kept in a tank with flowing water, they are bright in colour, and that they are very lively and kicking about. When we were picking them up from the fish store (I went to Finest at Sea in Victoria) the sales girl and I kept getting splashed by the prawns as they were flipping about in the tank! That’s how you know they are super good and super fresh I guess! 😛 If the spot prawns at your local store look like that, then pick up as much as you want! If they are slow and mopey, that probably means that they are older and not as fresh, so avoid those guys.
These spot prawns were alive and kicking! I almost couldn’t get this picture I was getting splashed so much!
Overall, your best bet to get spot prawns is to go to a specialty seafood shop to buy them, or if you can, buy them fresh off the boat from the fishermen! If you live in Victoria or Vancouver, you can buy spot prawns right off the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf and Granville Island, respectively. When you see the fishermen and fisherwomen selling you fresh spot prawns right off their boats, you know you are getting the freshest and the best spot prawns available!
When you bring the spot prawns home, keep them in a bag over ice in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. As with all types of seafood, it is best to cook it the day that you bring it home to ensure that it tastes very fresh and to avoid spoiling.
There are many ways to cook spot prawns, from boiling to grilling, to baking- and they’re all delicious! I prefer to remove the heads from the spot prawns and kill them quickly, rather than having them suffer by boiling them alive or grilling them over and open flame. To remove the heads, pick up the prawn and hold its head between your thumb and index finger. With your opposite hand, pinch just behind the head and give it a twist. This quickly kills the prawn and removes the bulk of the head/brain/guts and legs from the prawn that some people don’t like to eat. You can discard the heads or save them and turn them into stock that can be used in other dishes. What you will be left with are these succulent, meaty spot prawn tails that are prefect little bites that you can pop right into your mouth! Yummmm!
Heads are gone!
This year, I decided to butterfly my spot prawns and them simply pan-fry them with a bit of tasty Italian-inspired compound butter (more on the butter later). I simply made an incision down the back of the prawn using a sharp paring knife, almost all the way through to the bottom of the prawn with the legs. You have to be really careful when doing this since the knife is really sharp and you are working along the curved tail of the prawn. Once cut, I use my fingers to spread out the meat of the tail, removed the vein/intestinal tract of the prawn (It will be dark brown or black) and then fill the inside with the tasty butter.
All butterflied and ready to go!
The compound butter that I used in this recipe was inspired by Italian Bagna Cauda. Bagna Cauda is basically like an anchovy dipping sauce that is served wither hot or cold with vegetables and/or more fish. It sound pretty gross, but trust me, it is soooo good! The anchovies make the sauce silky soft and salty, which is the perfect addition to vegetables. With this recipe, the anchovies create another subtle salty, and slightly fishy layer to the spot prawns that totally elevates the dish. I highly recommend adding the anchovies to the butter if you like them, or if you are feeling a bit adventurous. Otherwise, the rest of the compound butter ingredients are basic garlic butter with garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, crushed red chili flakes, and lemon zest.
Once the spot prawns have been butterflied and stuffed with butter, they are simply fried in olive oil for just a few minutes. It takes about 60 seconds per side to cook the spot prawns the whole way through. You don’t want to overcook the spot prawns since they will get tough and rubbery. Just a few minutes in the frying pan is all they need.
While they are still hot in the pan, I like to add a bit more compound butter to really glaze them up and then arrange them on a serving platter. Eat these tasty spot prawns warm with a nice cold beer- and don’t forget the napkins! They are messy and delicious!
That’s it for this week’s recipe! Let me know in the comments below if you have ever eaten a BC Spot Prawn and/or if you have ever had Bagna Cauda! And of course, if you do try this recipe, let me know how it turned out! 🙂
Scroll down through these photos for the recipe!
Mmmm…. look at all that butter!
Sweet and succulent BC Spot Prawn meat- a real treat!
Find the recipe for BC Spot Prawns with Bagna Cauda Butter here!