In the 80s and 90s, my parents used to go to Richmond and buy bags of fresh prawns to boil up and eat with Maggi sauce mixed with sesame oil. When I was older, I’d realize that what we were in fact eating spot prawns! So the big hot local sustainable BC seafood product of the last decade or so had always been part of our family. 😀
Spot prawn season just started yesterday, so I bought some fresh live ones for myself. I went to The Fish Counter on Main St. (beside Portland Craft) and they had a tank of them. Besides great fish & chips, they also sell sustainable Oceanwise seafood. I’ve bought sidestripe prawns from here before, and they tasted pretty good sashimi-style. How would ultra-fresh BC spot prawns compare? Well…our local sidestripes are good but these spot prawns (only available a couple weeks out of the year) are fantastic! If you love that crunchy texture and clean, sweet taste of raw prawns, then you should get some spot prawns fast!
They packed my prawns in a Hellmann’s Mayonnaise bucket! So that’s the secret behind their tartar sauce 😛
I bought 8 spot prawns for ~$21. They’re not cheap if you’re used to cheap Asian sewer prawns. They were still twitching when I got home. I sorta followed this recipe. I used a towel that I also use for shucking oysters and wrapped it around the head while I twisted off the body. It’s not that difficult but you do have to get over the fact that you’re twisting the head off of a live spot prawn. Compared to watching my mom and grandmother slaughter chickens in the backyard, this is nothing. Gutting a fish is a bit more cringe-inducing to me.
Lots of goodies inside those heads! My parents used to boil these whole and I’d eat dozens of them and suck everything out of the heads.
I coated the heads with a bit of cornstarch, salt, and pepper, then deep fried them in 375°F oil for about 5 minutes.
If you like that crunchy texture in the raw prawn meat, keep your prawns cold. I put them in the fridge while I was deep frying the heads, but some instructions say you can keep them in ice water. I did notice a difference from eating it straight from the fridge versus my last few prawns that warmed up a bit. The cold ones did have that crunchy texture that I just love. The last couple that I took my sweet time getting to were softer and maybe a bit slimier in texture. Flavour was very clean in either case.
In addition to soy sauce and a bit of tube wasabi, I tried eating them with just lemon (really awesome) and Kikkoman lime ponzu dressing from Superstore (also good). I think next time I’ll do straight-up lemon juice with a splash of Japanese soy sauce. Keep it minimal to let the prawns speak. I love how a bit of lemon tastes with the raw prawn.
Beer pairing was Four Winds Operis Brett Saison (7%). This saison is quite unique in that it’s aged in Okanagan red wine barrels. I think it adds a bit of tartness and complexity. Brettanomyces adds a bit of funk and dryness. Also a bit of citrus and spice too, which pairs well with sushi if you’re bored with the standard Japanese lagers.
The deep fried spot prawn heads contained lots of goodies! Some had a fair amount of meat in them too. I poked my gums a couple times on those sharp pointy bits, so be careful… The helmet part is the “toughest” and least crispy part but still edible. The legs and antenna turned out very crispy and flew everywhere.
I saved the tails from the raw bodies and deep fried them as well. I always eat the tail part of the prawn tempura, so this is the same idea. It’s such a waste to not eat every part of the spot prawn!