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Spot Prawns - time to get them?

sfwtchris Apr 7, 2010 08:17 AM

I am thinking of cooking spot prawns this weekend. See them in many seaffod stalls around the Bay Area. However, the quality can vary from the firm to the soggy. I tend to poach it quickly ad make a light soy base dipping sauce. I get very excited when I see a pinkish liquid (or oil) when peeling. Almost wanted to save them and throw in risotto.

All in all, a very delicate ingredient.

Any suggestions on where to get the best spot prawns?
Am I too early in getting them? (We arein early April)
How do I spot the good ones from bad?

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  1. wolfe RE: sfwtchris Apr 7, 2010 08:52 AM

    Try Ranch 99 where they have them live in season. Not sure if it they are in season yet. The net says next month.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe
      grayelf RE: wolfe Apr 7, 2010 10:25 AM

      The good ones are *still alive* when purchased. They start to go mushy almost immediately after being dispatched.

    2. s
      SteveG RE: sfwtchris Apr 7, 2010 10:34 AM

      Santa Barbara spot prawns seem to be out of season now, but you may still find some harvested as bycatch from the ridgeback shrimp.

      "Santa Barbara Spot Prawns: Santa Barbara Spot Prawns are considered the sweetest-tasting prawn on the West Coast, with a texture similar to lobster. A shrimp species (not a true prawn), they are larger than ridgeback shrimp and have distinctive spots on both sides of their head. They are hard to come by because they are hand-picked in traps. Their highly desirable status drives the price per pound to $20 to $30. Served in fine dining restaurants around the globe. Season: March to October, some incidental catch during ridgeback season.

      Ridgeback Shrimp: The ridgeback shrimp is actually a prawn—distinguished by the sharp spine on its back—and is a smaller, more readily available species than the spot prawn. Very sweet and tender in taste and texture, their overall fragility prevents them from being shipped fresh, so take advantage of your visit to enjoy this delicacy. Season: October to June."

      3 Replies
      1. re: SteveG
        Ruth Lafler RE: SteveG Apr 7, 2010 12:27 PM

        They're in season now per your post: Season: March to October. Isn't April between March and October? In fact, if your dates are correct, we're in the overlap period of the ridgeback (October to June) and spot prawn (March to October) seasons.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          wolfe RE: Ruth Lafler Apr 7, 2010 12:56 PM

          I don't understand governmentese but it seems there is always a California season it's getting them live that's the problem.
          Current seasons, size limits, other restrictions
          Season closure: From Point Arguello to Cal-Ore border, early May to late July; from Point Arguello to Cal-Mex border, early November to late January

          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            SteveG RE: Ruth Lafler Apr 7, 2010 01:26 PM

            Err, yes. Can I claim undercaffeination? I knew I was reading it wrong, because Passionfish in Monterrey has had them on the menu since March. The best and second best spot prawn preps I've had were both there, and they haunt me to the point where I have been checking their menu.

        2. d
          Dawgmommy RE: sfwtchris Aug 17, 2010 07:45 PM

          Not sure if pp are still looking for them, I saw them Monday (8/16) at the Richmond Ranch 99 for $15.99/lb.

          1. m
            ML8000 RE: sfwtchris Aug 17, 2010 10:38 PM

            I haven't looked recently but I've bought them for as low as $9.99 live at Lucky Seafood. Most of the time they look to be $14-16. I don't see them that often but I also guess they sell out fast to the rough old lady crowd in the mornings. I did have spot prawns at R&G Lounge in July and they were excellent. The best ones I've ever had were bought in Monterey from a dock market, grilled.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ML8000
              SteveG RE: ML8000 Aug 18, 2010 01:18 PM

              Which dock in Monterrey? Last time I was down there I tried to stop for some fresh seafood on the way home to cook later that day, but failed to find any good spots to buy it.

              1. re: SteveG
                ML8000 RE: SteveG Aug 18, 2010 02:01 PM

                I don't remember. It's been more then 10 years. It wasn't the wharf but close...found them totally by accident. I also got some in Salinas that were excellent at Frank's Fish Market but that was also a long time ago.

                1. re: ML8000
                  saucedjen RE: ML8000 Aug 18, 2010 03:17 PM

                  I saw some live ones in the window on Wing Hing on Clement yesterday but didn't notice the price. You want the same qualities in spot prawns that you want when picking a live crab: lively and a bright shell. I'd also check the Seafood Center on Clement for them. If you're willing to pay premium, Bryan's fish counter in Laurel Village with custom order them live for you.

                  Wing Hing Restaurant
                  2550 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

                  Seafood Center
                  831 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

                2. re: SteveG
                  davina RE: SteveG Aug 19, 2010 03:44 PM

                  We got them last weekend at wharf #2 in Monterey. Not the touristy wharf, but the one with the fish/abalone vendors. The spot prawns were live, and fantastic.

              2. rabaja RE: sfwtchris Aug 19, 2010 09:52 AM

                Monterey Fish has them right now. You may need to call and special order them though, as we got them through the wholesale side.
                They were big and delicious. Some had roe.
                Hard to peel these suckers though!

                9 Replies
                1. re: rabaja
                  wolfe RE: rabaja Aug 19, 2010 10:57 AM

                  Season them, grill them and eat everything, omit peeling.

                  1. re: wolfe
                    rabaja RE: wolfe Aug 19, 2010 02:36 PM

                    Yes, I know.
                    This was for a particular dish and I was following orders.

                    1. re: rabaja
                      grayelf RE: rabaja Oct 7, 2010 09:20 AM

                      I've never found freshly killed spots (or other fresh) prawns hard to peel -- interesting. Some varieties can be a bitch to peel if previously frozen, tho.

                      1. re: grayelf
                        susancinsf RE: grayelf Oct 7, 2010 12:00 PM

                        Grayelf, if you like fresh spot prawns, you might want to check in with La Ciccia when you are here later in the month. Hubby and I had a wonderful dinner there about a week ago (perhaps our best yet), and the Chef mentioned that they were having a shipment coming and were planned as a special the following weekend (that would have been the weekend that just passed). I was very tempted to drive right back for a Saturday night dinner...So, I imagine if they were a hit that they will be back on the menu before too long...).

                        La Ciccia
                        291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                        1. re: susancinsf
                          mrs bacon RE: susancinsf Oct 7, 2010 02:55 PM

                          We had these a couple weeks ago at La Ciccia. They were offered as an appetizer, or a main, which we got. I believe there were 5 or 6 to an order. These were prepared very simply, and were delicious!

                          La Ciccia
                          291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                        2. re: grayelf
                          wally RE: grayelf Oct 7, 2010 12:21 PM

                          Monterey Fish Market only sells fresh spot shrimp usually live.

                          1. re: wally
                            rabaja RE: wally Oct 8, 2010 08:52 AM

                            Yes, we just got some more on Wednesday from MM and they were alive and jumping around quite a bit. Delicious too.
                            Not sure how much longer MM will have them.

                            1. re: rabaja
                              wolfe RE: rabaja Oct 8, 2010 10:19 AM

                              MM=Monterey Market. MFM= Monterey Fish.

                              1. re: wolfe
                                rabaja RE: wolfe Oct 9, 2010 11:36 AM

                                Right you are, big guy.

                  2. Shrinkrap RE: sfwtchris Jul 15, 2011 05:50 PM

                    Huge, like scampi,many with roe, live ,and jumping! $18.99 a pound at County Square Market in Vacaville.

                    County Square Market
                    136 Peabody Rd, Vacaville, CA 95687

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Shrinkrap
                      rabaja RE: Shrinkrap Jul 15, 2011 10:23 PM

                      Good to know, thanks!

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