Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SPOT PRAWN - Pandalus platyceros

Spot Prawn, Spot Shrimp - Pandalus platyceros

The spot prawn has become  the champion of the seven species of shrimp found in coastal waters of BC.  The spot prawn which until only recently has officially received its name as a prawn.  Based on the gill structure it falls under the shrimp family rather than the prawn family.  After years of being marketed as a prawn they have finally been officially allowed to all been call a prawn.  Spot prawns are protandric hermaphroditic which means that each prawn is born a male and then later passes through a female stage.

The fishery in BC, is about six weeks long starting from mid May and most of the product is exported to Japan in the frozen state. Due to the strong marketing, consumer demand, and willingness of people to pay a competitive price these spot prawns are being found in more local establishments and fish mongers.  The spot prawns are not are hearty animal and therefore these guys are not found in many cities away from the coast.  Sorry, my east coast friends you will have to settle for the frozen versions.

The taste is sweet and firm.  In general, the prawns do not need to be deveined.  It is not because their anatomy is different from the black tiger prawns you are used to but rather the prawns are generally shocked in cold fresh water which causes the prawn to puke or poop, removing most of the waste or black stuff that would be found in the dorsal vein.

You can find many different recipes for spot prawns but my preference is to take advantage of the freshness and availability of the live ones by steaming or boiling them. I like to steam them, cool them down with cold water to stop the cook and serve them warm with a variety of dipping sauces (green onion, ginger and soya sauce | cupe mayo | garlic butter).   The traditional Japanese Canadian way is to boil the live prawns in salty water for about 3 minutes, cool them down in cold water and put them in the fridge for an hour to consume later with cupe mayonnaise.  The prawns are commonly consumed raw in Japan and if you are cooking them, you can tell when they are done because they turn pink.

If you are lucky enough to have access to some live spot prawns, make sure you treat yourself this season and grab a few pounds to cook up.


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