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Jun 1, 2009 09:39 AM

Anyone try BC spot prawns? Where are the good ones?

I was in Vancouver last week and had the opportunity to try spot prawns on a few occasions. Man, they're good. On one tasting menu, they tasted like tender lobster. Delicious. Anyhow, I know they're available at a few spots in town (T&T, Bill's). Has anyone sampled them and had luck sourcing good quality ones? They're $14/lb at T&T.

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  1. The ones at T&T are great, buy them! If you don't want them lingering in the tanks too long, shipments come in on Tuesday and Friday.

    The $14 is a sale price that only lasts until today.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aser

      I'll second this; I bought some at T&T and they were great.

    2. Bought live ones to cook at home from Star Dragon Seafood ( Finch/Midland), T&T ( Warden ) as well as Bayview Foodmart ( Bayview /Blackmoore ).
      Had them sushi style from Taro fish. Sauteed with minced garlic and maggi sauce from both O'M'ei and Fantasy Eatery. The latter only $10 half pound cooked! ( About 8-9, more than enough for two. One can eat the shell too! Nice and crunchy, )

      18 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        Bayview foodmart had them at $15 (min 2 lb though), this was last week. Bill's I think had them at $17.99 and T&T's regular price is $19.99

        I had them the classic method, boiled briefly in salted water. With light soy + red chilis + hot oil as dipping sauce.

        Sucking the head is the best part!!!!

        1. re: aser

          Yeah, the heads in particular were crazy good...

          1. re: Chester Eleganté

            So envious for you 'young' guys! You can eat anything! Ha! As for us seniors, have to go easy on those 'cholesterol' loaded brains!

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Yeah, my dad and grandmom give all the heads to me !

            2. re: Chester Eleganté

              What about the body? Is it Chinese "custom" to eat the shell or peel it with your hands?

              1. re: Apprentice

                Normally, for steamed or boiled version, the shells are peeled. However, there are various preparation methods that required the shrimp to be fried first. This methodology renders the shell to be ultra crispy and hence can be eaten as well. Both the Fantasy Eatery and O'Mei 'Maggi sauce' version are such examples. Texture not unlike fried soft shell crab.

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Ok thanks, that makes sense. I was in Suzhou a few years back and a friend and I ordered shrimp which had the shell on. We thought since they served it that way we could eat it. We were the only two in the restaurant and everyone working there (including the chefs) gathered two tables from us and did not take their eyes off us and were lauging I wasn't sure if it was because we were foreingers or because we were eating the shell! The O'Mei version is nice but to avoid being looked at I peeled them - but I did eat one with the shell on and it was much more flavourful (obviously). Btw O'Mei fried rice was horrible, no different than Mandarin. Did they just add a bunch of soy sauce because I'm not Chinese?

                  1. re: Apprentice

                    O'Mei does a whole bunch of different fried rice dishes. Need you to clarify which one you ordered.

                    1. re: Apprentice

                      Yes, as Charles said, there is whole bunch of fried rice in there. Our whole family loves the lobster roe fried rice in the last course of the lobster meal. We found one or two times it is a bit dry, but overall it is very good fried rice ! Even my relatives from HK are impressed.

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        I ordered the Mushroom fried rice. I was expecting the "smokiness" that I get at Sunstar or Maple Yip.

                        btw i edited my previous post, in hindsight it was inappropriate/harsh...though I assume you knew what I meant, there can be a culture shock for both the visitor and locals...

                        1. re: Apprentice

                          It also depends on what menu you ordered from, because their "whitey" menu is totally different than the Chinese one at O'Mei.

                          Even when I go in w/ non-Asians, the waiters always tell me to not even bother w/ the "whitey" menu since I talk w/ them in Cantonese.

                          1. re: felix the hound

                            Sure, but you still have the ability to get the other menu or order things off of it. It's kind of like a racially discriminatory In-N-Out secret menu.

                          2. re: Apprentice

                            Hello Apprentice,
                            I'm afraid I'm not that familiar with the 'mushroom fried rice' that you ordered at O'Mei. The few times that I had fried rice there, its usual the 'Lobster roe version' as eluded to by skylineR33. Otherwise, we usually order the traditional 'Yang Chow' version ( with diced bbq pork, prawns and sweat peas.. ) or the 'Fukien' version ( egg fried rice topped with a diced seafood gravy ). For Dim Sum lunch, I like to order the 'Yin Yan' version ( egg fried rice topped with a prawns in cream sauce on one side and julienne of chicken in tomato sauce on the otherside ) for my kids.
                            The 'smokinees' you mentioned above is the result of 'wok-hay' aka essence of the wok. This is the end result when ingredients inside the wok are being tossed and ignited by the flame. Hence the smokiness. Both Sunstar and Maple Yip are known for this.
                            Lastly, have fun with your dim sum lunch at Yang's! My thoughts will be with you since I work very close by!!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Thanks for the information (and wishes - Yang's was good!).

                2. re: aser

                  TNT is Vancouver had them for 10 bucks a pound, which is phenomenal (I bought 2 lbs today) vs. Whole Foods which is 5.99/100grams. Which is 10 bucks for 5 or 6 depending on size. Plus TNT has live units, Lord knows how long Whole Foods has them dead on ice.

                3. re: Charles Yu

                  I also got some this weekend from Star Dragon to cook at home, the big scallop and BC spot prawns ! Really nice. The shrimp jumps up and down !

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    Those prawns look nice. The scallops too. You eat them with the roe as well?
                    Might get some this weekend.

                    I had some of the spot prawns from T&T last night. Based on Aser's comment that they were likely delivered on Friday, I decided not to eat them raw. Instead, basic oil, lemon juice, touch of garlic, parsley. Simple, and delicious.

                    1. re: grandgourmand

                      Yes, I eat the whole scallop including the "thin muscle". For the shrimp, I eat the roe in the head except the "tiny sack" which contains garbage. I don't eat them raw too.

                4. I just had some last night - all I know for sure is that my friend got them in Chinatown East, I'm guessing at Bill's. It was the first time I've had them, so I have nothing to compare them to, but they were pretty fantastic.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Wahooty

                    We tried prawns for the first time last weekend. Diana's Seafood had them on sale. Sorry I don't recall the exact price but we got 6 for $6.83.

                    We prepared them using a recipe from Stephen Reichlin's BBQ cookbook. I didn't particularly care for the marinade but the prawns themselves were great! They were like little lobsters.

                    I removed the head... it sounds like maybe I shouldn't have. I wouldn't mind trying them again, head and all but I need some recipe ideas. Does anyone have any recipes they want to share?

                    1. re: lyndak

                      With things this fresh, the less you do to them, the better. A simple boil in salted water or quickly grilled would be great. Pair it w/ a dipping sauce of your liking. Think of them more as crab/lobster than your typical previously frozen black tiger shrimps.

                      I would eat them raw if I can catch them right when they come in, before they hit the tank. You never know when was the last time they clean those tanks.

                      1. re: aser

                        thanks aser! I"m looking forward to trying them again.

                        1. re: lyndak

                          does anyone know of any restaurants that are cooking up spot prawns? all this talk has my mouth watering....

                          1. re: deabot

                            For Chinese cuisine, I mentioned a few. Just scroll up and read my posting.

                            1. re: deabot

                              amuse bouche was advertising a spot prawn menu last month though i'm not sure how long it lasts.

                              1. re: deabot

                                I think Pangaea is doing them.

                                1. re: deabot

                                  Just had some phenomenal ones last night at The Black Hoof. Spicy type sauce, toasted corn nuts, really really good. Note: raw. If I can, I'll get a quickie post and photos up later. Their patio has just opened, so maybe it won't be so silly. But if you plan to sit outside, bring a jacket and a scarf. It was cold inside with the door open.

                         -- food. is. love.

                        2. I had a pretty amazing seafood experience last night. Driving home from a meeting, I stopped into City Fish to pick up something for dinner.

                          As I was walking over to the red snapper, I saw a box full of spot prawns. I've read about them and seen them at Bill's so I thought I would give them a try. They appeared really lively and fresh.

                          I did a bit of research on the internet and came up with the game plan. I soaked the (semi) live prawns in chinese cooking wine for about 10 minutes, then steamed them for 6 minutes over a broth of water, soy sauce, chinese cooking wine, sesame oil and finely sliced ginger.

                          I used some of the broth in a dipping sauce which I made a bit more flavourful with additional soy, mirin, a bit of lemon juice, more ginger and sliced green onion.

                          It was one of the best seafood experiences I've had in a while. I twisted off the head and sucked out the roe and other shrimpy goodness. The tail meat was so sweet and tender. Growing up in TO, so far from the sea, I never knew shrimp could be that good. I'll be back next week for more. They're not cheap, $15.00/lb., but worth every penny.

                          By the way, my wife loves shrimp but not into the whole prawns, so I bought her some scallops. The lady at City Fish told me that Canada has banned fresh scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, the stuff that makes them retain water and creates a milky liquid. I ONLY buy dry scallops so I was happy to hear that.

                          They were super fresh and really tasty. Seared them in my cast iron pan until about medium in the centre and super crisp, brown crust on the outside.

                          All in all, an excellent experience at City Fish. My cooking technique didn't hurt either ;-) Yeah, so I'm bragging a bit, so what? I was proud that I didn't screw anything up.

                          Anyone know when the spot prawn season is over?

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: acd123

                            Spot prawn season lasts 80 days. I think it starts in MAy. So we should have another month and a 1/2, give or take.

                            $15/lb is a good price. Very comparable to what I paid from a fishmonger in Vancouver. I think was even more than that.

                            I'm getting some tonight.

                            1. re: grandgourmand

                              Sorry, that should have read $15.99 per pound, so $16. Still worth in IMO.

                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                Ouch, you have a very expensive fishmonger in Van! $7.99-$8.99/lb is what I see for huge ones. And $12-$13/lb cooked in Chinese restaurants.

                                1. re: Wandering Foodie

                                  Well, I'm not a local and I got them at Granville isl. Colour me embarrassed.

                                  1. re: grandgourmand

                                    As you have found out, Granville Island does not have the best prices for Spots. At T&T they are usually $8.88 /lb. In Chinatown (and some other areas) - you can get them for $7/lb.

                                    I bought these at $6.99/lb in Chinatown (they were all alive and vigorous):

                              2. re: acd123

                                City fish is great - easily my go to fish monger in all of TO - its no surprise he supplies some of the cities top restaurants.

                                They should be getting some soft shelled crabbies in soon as well....oh the joy I will have when they arrive!

                                1. re: Sadistick

                                  They may split this off, but how do you prepare your soft shell crabs? One of my favourite things ever.

                                  1. re: acd123

                                    My fave preparation is chilli-fried and crispy-shelled!
                                    But don't ask me how, this was just how I ate it.

                                    1. re: acd123

                                      Usually, I just make a batter and fry them up till crisp. A few days ago, I used a pasta recipe I saw posted on the wall at Bill's. Just search "soft shell crabs mark bittman" and you will find it. I had asked Bill to save me a lb of spot prawns but when I arrived 2 hrs later, he was just selling the last 3 lbs to some guy that looked a bit like Charles Yu.

                                      1. re: foodyDudey

                                        Charles seems to be buying the city's supply.

                                        I've prepared them a variety of ways so far, from both T&T and Bill's. Excellent stuff. I tempura'd some the other night and they were great.

                                        1. re: tjr

                                          Very funny tjr!!

                                          Bill's a bit too far for me. Usually shop for them in the Richmond Hill/Markham area.

                                          BTW, Aser, the Floridian spotted prawns ( available in 'cool' November due to greater survival rate ) have much smaller head and smaller in size. They are more like the Hong Kong 'Gay Wai Ha' which is sweeter and crisper in texture than their chewier west coast counterpart. For 'sashimi', I prefer the west coast varietal.

                                      2. re: acd123

                                        Be sure to prick the shells so they don't spurt, first off -

                                        Purists will say don't bother with anything, just fry as is, wedge of lemon, sea salt, and you are set -

                                        I prefer seasoned flower, even Wondra if I have it for the extra crunch

                                        Fried till crisp, do not overcook!

                                        1. re: Sadistick

                                          Live soft shell crab is available at Taro's fish at $8, $10 for tempura & $13 for spider roll.

                                    2. re: acd123

                                      For BC, It's basically beginning of May to the end of June, you still have a month left.

                                      Other times of the year they come from places like Florida, Scotland, etc.....

                                    3. I just called around

                                      City Fish = $15.99 per pound
                                      Diana's = $16.99 per pound
                                      Bill's = $18.99 per pound

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: acd123

                                        Thanks for that.

                                        As an aside, T&T has canner lobsters for $4.99 each, uncooked. tonight's menu is lobster rolls and something with spot shrimps.

                                          1. re: foodyDudey

                                            Damn, I just got this post. Otherwise, there was plenty. Unfortunately, I had to gorge myself. Them's the breaks.

                                            No Alphonsos for dessert, so you're not missing out that much.

                                        1. re: acd123

                                          The ones I got at Bill's were delicious, by the way. More expensive, but more convenient for me. Just skewered them, grilled them, lemon juice, wow.

                                          Sucked the heads this time. Yum.

                                          1. re: acd123

                                            just cooked up some spot prawns from Bill's tonight-first ever spot prawn experience, wowz these beauties were delicious. Sweet, clean tasting and meaty, I had boiled them a little and served them with a little soy sauce on the side. I'm going back for more later in the week.

                                            1. re: deabot

                                              A discussion of recipes and techniques for cooking the prawns has been split to the Home Cooking board. You can find the thread here:


                                            2. re: acd123

                                              Sunny Mart (a Chinese supermarket at Leslie & Finch) has'em for $13.99/lb. Just got a nice batch in today. They have a large seafood room with some of the freshest and best-valued fish around.