Cooking Spot Prawns
Nothing quite marks the start of the summer season like the opening of spot prawn season in BC. Wild British Columbia Spot Prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown colour which turns bright pink when cooked, defining white spots on their tail and white horizontal bars on the shell.
In BC approximately 2,450 metric tonnes are harvested annually, with about 65% of the harvest coming from the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Prawn fisherman spread baited traps along the rocky ocean floor at depths ranging from 40 to 100 metres. This method has minimal impact on ocean habitat and very low levels of by-catch of other species.
May 12th was the beginning of the six to eight week long Spot Prawn harvest season. This means it’s time to bust out our best prawn recipes. Here are a few mouth-watering ideas that are easy to whip up, even in a galley!
Pan-fried spot prawns: Spot prawns have such a wonderful flavour already that you don’t need to get overly fancy when preparing them. The most important secret is not to overcook them. You’ll only want to cook each side for about one to two minutes.
Pan-Fried Spot Prawn Recipe:
- 6 Spot Prawns
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. rice wine
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. chopped scallions
- 1 tsp. cooking oil
Boiled Spot Prawns with Soya Chili Dipping Sauce: A Vancouver chef, Robert Belcham, famous for his Spot Prawn Boil shared his simple secret to some of the most succulent prawns ever: Just pour boiling water over a single layer of prawns in a roasting pan until covered. Wait 5 minutes, peel and enjoy.
Boiled Spot Prawn with Soya Chili Dipping Sauce Recipe:
- 1 lb. Spot Prawns
- 4 slices ginger
- 1 scallion, whole, smashed
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 2 Litres water
- 2 Tbsp high-quality soya sauce
- 2 Tbsp water or unsalted chicken stock
- pinch sugar
- 1 serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Grilled Lemon Garlic Spot Prawn Skewers: It’s impossible to go wrong with lemon, garlic and butter. Don’t have a stove top to work with? No problem, this recipe calls for a BBQ!
- 1-pound BC Spot Prawn Tails
- 4 Garlic cloves – minced
- 1 bunch Chives – chopped fine
- 1 Tsp Sea Salt
- 4 Tbsp Butter – melted
- Zest and juice of 1 Lemon
- 8 presoaked Wooden Skewers (soaking the skewers prevent them from burning on the grill)
Spot Prawns with Lime & Cilantro: A Vietnamese-esque take on a basic sauce with lime, chilis and cilantro.
Spot Prawns with Lime & Cilantro Recipe
- 1 pound spot prawns, or other large prawns, shell-on
- zest of 1 lime
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Poached Spot Prawns with Chili-Garlic and Fireweed Honey Butter: Darren Brown, the Executive Chef at the Fairmont Pacific Rim and Chefs’ Table Society member, shares this recipe that takes less than 30 minutes from start to first bite.
Poached Spot Prawns with Chili Garlic and Fireweed Honey Butter Recipe
- 2 dozen spot prawns, unshelled
- 3 litres salted water
- Juice and rind of 3 lemons
- 1 lb salted butter
- 3 heads of garlic
- 1 tbsp Espelette chili (or substitute red chili flakes)
- 2 tbsp Big D’s Fireweed Honey
- Zest of 1 lime
These sweet morsels are not just delicious, they are sustainable, too. Listed a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, trap-caught spot prawns come from a plentiful, healthy population.
If you are interested in catching some prawns yourself, the Van Isle Marina Fuel Dock carries prawn traps, line, bait and bait oil! And remember, when it comes to sharing your BC Spot Prawns, it’s OK to be a little ‘shellfish’!