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Spot Prawn Season Starts May 5th

According to the BC Prawn Fisherman's Website. Let me know your thoughts on where to buy the best (as well as reasonably priced) spot prawns for home cooking and your favorite places to dine out on these critters (while the season lasts).

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  1. As always-Chinatown for bargain prices on BC's Best!

    Also-be sure to check the T&T website to see when they have Spot Prawns on special.

    1. Kirin on Cambie used to have great quality spots for about $4/lb less (prepared, served, etc.) than live ones at the market. Salt and pepper fried all the way, then you can eat the whole thing, or almost! That's where I'll be headed.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dillybravo

        Went to Koon Bo last night, the prawns pan-fried in soy sauce were fantastic: great juicy heads, very fresh taste. Still pricey but it is early days. Squab was really great, too.

        Kirin this morning was alright, I like how they do them fried with salt and pepper. Tasty heads again and well fried, but surprisingly undersalted, which was a bit of a bummer. Somehow they were just "OK." Slightly more upscale than Koon Bo in price and otherwise.

        I think my new favourite style is pan-fried in soy sauce. The flavour of the sauce really resonates with the tomalley and other funky tastes in the head, which also stays juicy like plain steamed prawn. So delicious.

        Now I am thinking I might go try this style at Sea Harbour. Anyone have any comments on theirs, or other suggestions?

        1. re: dillybravo

          We had them at SH in soy sauce last year but v. late in the season so were not too impressed with the size, freshness or price :-). I think that dish won an award for them though...

      2. Saw them in the T and T ad at about $12\lb; don't know if that is a good price.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Philx

          They should go down to $8-$10 in season

        2. I think the Oakridge Fish Market (near the library entrance) had rather good spot prawn prices last year. Can't remember exactly how much.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kinnickinnik

            That's a great little shop, clean as a whistle run by friendly welcoming folks and with some excellent prices.

          2. We buy them year round, frozen, headless, in 1lb tubs for $15.00.
            #4 Rd./Finn Rd. ,south of Steveston Hwy, Richmond.
            There's always a sign in the driveway ( west side)

            1. like most of us on this board, i absolutely love bc spot prawns (we head out to the sunshine coast and harvest our own regularly). That being said, I've found the only reliable cooking method is to cook with the shell on (and peeled post-cooking). There are lots of preparations that I;d like to try that require a raw, peeled prawn to start. I've tried to peel raw (not frozen, does this help?) spot prawns and had tremendous difficulty. Am I doing it wrong? Any help is appreciated.

              13 Replies
              1. re: wueric

                An effective way to peel fresh has always eluded me as well-and the fresher they are the harder to peel.

                1. re: Sam Salmon

                  Twist the head off. Twist and peel off each section starting at the big end. The tail shell piece should easily come off with one or two sections left. Watch out for the little spikes near the tail.

                  1. re: fishon

                    Concur with fishon. And if you think they're hard to peel fresh, frozen and thawed is worse!

                2. re: wueric

                  They are much easier to peel after sitting in the fridge overnight. ALWAYS remove the heads immediately from whole prawns as soon as they die if you are not going to cook and eat or freeze them right away; the digestive acids in the head will start softening the lovely crunchy sweet meat within hours if you don't.

                  Wondering if there is anything you can do with the heads? Try a deep-fried head like higher end sushi restaurants serve when you order amaebi sashimi.

                  Snap a spot prawn head off a prawn, being careful to keep all the goodies inside it. Cut off the long feelers, all of the "rapier" defensive spike and the ends of the legs with scissors. It's also important to remove the stomach which will otherwise taste bitter or sandy; this is tricky to do; I find with a bit of practice you can "fish" it out of the front mouth of the prawn head using one piece of scissor; make an incision in the front of the head then probe under the mouth and fish it out. If it breaks and leaks brown gunk over the head you can wash it off. It's often quite large.

                  Roll the head in a little salt, then deep fry quickly in VERY hot oil (as hot as you can get it without risking it catching fire); the idea is for the chitin to bubble and crisp like pork crackling. Smaller heads work best since the shell is thinner. Ideally it should be crispy on the outside and full of juicy delicious prawn head fat and meat on the inside; eat the whole thing. Done properly it is sublime. Serve with the rest of the prawn as sashimi.

                  1. re: jcolvin

                    Thanks for the tips (on both peeling and head prep), I suppose there's no better time to figure this out...

                    1. re: jcolvin

                      Thanks for tip on removing the heads of th prawns. I bought prawns on Saturday from the fish stand in the Granville Market (very expensive at $ 14 per pound, but T&T was out) and did not remove the heads until I was ready to prepare my meal in the early evening. I used the shells for a bisque that came out very well, but the garlic fried prawns I made with the tail meat came out soft, soggy and blah. So I guess the right approach should have been to buy the prawns live (mine were not) and then remove the heads as soon as I got home. Right?

                      1. re: Peter Rodgers

                        That's what I did when I was "researching" spot prawns a couple years ago. Still have the scars (both mental and physical) from beheading the little beggars, though. They REALLY want to live, and the spikes mentioned above are not to be ignored. There will be blood, and it won't just be the prawns :-). Good luck.

                        1. re: Peter Rodgers

                          Yep. And for double security, after removing the heads give them a quick rinse in water to get rid of any residual digestive enzyme. If the the fish shop only has dead ones, buy ones that have already been beheaded. Dead head-on prawns are likely to be mushy.

                          1. re: Peter Rodgers

                            I recommend buying live prawns, heads on and then dropping them live into boiling water. That's what I do and then you avoid removing the head while still live.

                            1. re: kwl

                              Hi kwl: Perhaps steaming the prawns (instead of boiling in water) would be a good alternative to retain the true flavour of the spot prawns. I find that much of the goodness of the prawns are lost with boiling it. Ben

                              1. re: chowtimes

                                Yeah, I've only ever boiled them before but I'll try steaming. I found the flavor was retained when I boiled them.

                                1. re: kwl

                                  I had a few a couple of nights ago - a bit of olive oil, shallots and chilis in a sautee pan, heat 'til fragrant. Toss in the prawns, and a splash of some Belgian saison beer I had on hand to generate steam - cover and toss around a minute or so (and no more than 2), and the lovely, sweet prawns were ready.

                                  Had one mushy one in the batch though - bleah (bought fresh tails but they probably didn't get this head of quickly enough).

                            2. re: Peter Rodgers

                              Bought live spot prawn from the boat at the Granville Island wharf for $12/pound today (ouch - good thing I only needed two pounds).

                        2. We were on Vancouver Island on the weekend and headed up to Comox yesterday. Before heading home to Vancouver, we went to the harbour dock there and were lucky to get live large spot prawns from the Tinkerbell II boat. There were literally jumping all the way home.....all 12 lbs of them that we bought! They were $10/lb for the large size. On arriving home, I deheaded them (which was quite challenging as they were still so active) and froze them is single layers in ziplock bags with a little water as a glaze. I was told they would last 6months in the freezer like this but I'm sure we'll be eating them long before that. I also froze the heads and plan to make a stock tonight. We were also lucky to get a fresh 14lb halibut from another boat for $8/lb. They filleted the whole thing for us included extracting the cheeks. Again, the bones will make a great stock tonight. We vacuum packed the filets. This, and 4 tubs of Fanny Bay oysters from the Buckley Bay Ferry terminal was quite a haul!!

                          1. Spot Prawn Festival at Cowichan Bay this Sunday.

                            If you are on the Island make sure you head to Cowichan Bay on Sunday. It is the 4th Spot Prawn festival. You can buy right off the boats.