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spot prawns May 2012

I'm in Vancouver and wish to buy spot prawns to feed 8 persons at a home spot prawn boil. I was planning to buy them Saturday morning at the Granville Island fisherman's wharf assuming they are being sold there. I'm looking for hours of operation or an alternate location if they're not open.


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  1. The prawn boats pull in ~12-1 but the lineup forms before that.

    Also check out the fish market at Oakridge mall. They hold them in tanks and price tends to be more reasonable.

    If you buy them live - either keep them going or behead promptly or you'll have mush.

    1. Sounds like you're familiar with spotties but just in case: live spot prawns are MEAN and will slice your hands up something fierce when you are beheading them. I looked like I'd been in an Exacto knife showdown when I offed 2 lbs a season or two ago :-).

      5 Replies
      1. re: grayelf

        rubber gloves are handy for limiting the hand shredding

        1. re: kinnickinnik

          Get the rubberized gardening gloves ..... thicker than the household variety ! :-)

          1. re: LotusRapper

            Or maybe those oyster shucking gloves that have the steel mesh in 'em! The spotties I had the showdown with lacerated my kitchen gloves. And that was after cooling them off to render them less evil -- didn't slow 'em down a whit.

            1. re: grayelf

              A tea towel and a decent Chinese poultry cleaver will take care of those guys no problem.

              1. re: grayelf

                It's the tail that does the damage. If you keep your finger to one side so the "trying to escape" tail flick misses you you can rip those heads with impunity even gloveless. It's very Game of Thrones.

        2. Bought mine at Finest at Sea on the day of the May 5th festival. Line was just too long. Got the heads off ones due to easier handling.

          Absolute disaster. Complete mush.

          4 Replies
          1. re: repartee1

            I always boil them from a live state with the heads on....it's a little messier while eating but at least I don't get cut. Should I really be de-heading them first??

            Also, does anyone know how long the shrimp can be kept alive in the fridge? I think I heard two hours is about the limit. I'm treating my mom and sister to a spot prawn feast tomorrow night. Saw live prawns at the Oakridge Fish Market (which is apparently under new management) for $14.99 the other day, but they had very few.

            1. re: Quattrociocchi

              It is best to leave the heads on if boiling them from live. Behead if you don't expect to cook them before they expire.

              I have kept them alive in the fridge on top of ice for a number of hours (maybe 4?). YMMV.

              1. re: fmed

                Yep, heads on if cooking them live and eating them right away. Lots of goodness in the heads, but try to avoid the stomach sac which is bitter. Eventually you will become practised at tearing off the good head bits and leaving the stomach behind.

                If you are going to cook them and keep them in the fridge for a while, heads off before cooking or they will mush sooner rather than later.

                If keeping longer uncooked, heads off BEFORE they die. Once they die they mush quite quickly. A quick rinse under cold water will help stop them mushing from any residual stomach enzyme.

                I'll usually turn some into amaebi: buy live, remove heads, eat bodies sashimi style; then immediately (heads don't keep long at all before spoiling) snip off the "spike" and ends of legs with scissors, remove the stomach and deep fry until crispy in very hot oil. The whole head is edible. Removing the bitter nasty stomach is a trick; if you snip just *above* the mouth part with the ends of sharp scissors the whole stomach sac will usually pull out along with the mouth. Will take a bit of practise...

            2. re: repartee1

              Always best to buy them live to avoid the mush. Sometimes the fishermen are just too busy hauling traps and the spotties die on the boat before getting beheaded, which is a recipe for tears.

            3. Thanks FMED - good to know I haven't been doing it wrong all these years. Now, what to dip them in.....

              4 Replies
              1. re: Quattrociocchi

                My favourite preparation is to quickly swirl the prawns (while still alive) in oil, crushed garlic and salt....then onto a hot BBQ grill. a couple of minutes later, they are done.

                1. re: fmed

                  This is my favourite preparation as well...morbid as it sounds, the legs/feelers/etc. tend to burn up on the grill and give the prawns a nice smoky flavour. Now I'm hungry...I think a spot prawn feast for tonight is in order.

                  1. re: jerkstore

                    The combination of the prawn's natural sweetness and the char from the grill is totally intoxicating. Serve with a petillant dry prosecco to usher in BBQ season.

                  2. re: fmed

                    Got 5 lbs live for mothers day from 1 fish 2 fish in Langley and fm'ed them and they turned out awesome. Used a caper, parsley, dill, chive, RW vinegar evoo dipping sauce and it turned out great.

                    Served with fiddleheads which are in season (Love this season, halibut is also in and morels will be soon!) with a garlic, anchovy evoo drizzle which was awesome.

                    Cheers and thanks to all.

                2. Prices earlier this week for live spot prawns in Chinatown was $12.99/lb. T&T has spot prawns for $12.88 but pricing ended on Thursday.

                  Slice a serrano pepper or any hot pepper into rings place into dipping bowl
                  Heat 1-2 tbs of canola or grape seed oil till almost smoking point
                  Pour over sliced serrano pepper
                  Add 2-4 tbs of soy sauce
                  Dip away!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: 604xt

                    That sauce sounds delish - I'll try it for sure. And I really like the idea of bbq'ing the prawns. Maybe we'll do a bit of both. Thanks everyone.

                    1. re: 604xt

                      Tnx all - didn't know they were so mean - will buy gardening gloves - they're even fussier than I thought - will buy lots of ice. The above cited links are a great help.

                      I was thinking of boiling them, head on, simply, in a chicken broth, white wine, some garlic. Say, whoa there, if you think this a bad idea. I'm slow to reply because my only web access in Vancouver is at wireless hotspots.

                      1. re: rosetown

                        The combination of ingredients will work well, but make sure to keep it at a low simmer at the hottest - these guys are far better slowly poached than full-on boiled, IMHO.

                        1. re: rosetown

                          Don't boil - steam.

                          Throw them live into a big pot with a just little boiling water at the bottom. (You can probably use white wine, rice wine, etc to augment the water - but I like plain water. Maybe add shallots...or whatever other kinds of aromatics you like - lemongrass, lime leaf, etc will probably work.).

                          But you aren't "boiling" them - you are "steaming" them - so just enough liquid to generate steam. You will lose so much of the prawn's natural sweetness if you boil it in a large amount of water.

                          Yeah - they are little Wolverines of the sea. Their legs and spine are sharp as blades. Put the prawns in the freezer or ice for just a few minutes - not to freeze, but to render them into slow-motion. They are easier to behead when they are groggy from the cold.

                          Me - I just throw them all in with their heads on. I can then suck their heads once they are cooked. You will also lose less of the prawns' juices if you leave the heads on. I only behead for family members who can't be bothered. I do it under protest.

                      2. Stop it you guys ... i'm getting hungry!

                        ... I haven't had spot prawns in a long time. Going to Metrotown shortly and will be dropping T&T. Wonder if they have any there?

                        1. Update - went to Oakridge Fish Market yesterday and bought 5 lbs. of spot prawns for dinner. They were the biggest, fattest, juiciest prawns I have ever had. We just boiled them and dipped them in a soy/rice wine vinegar/ginger sauce, but they were so sweet and delicious we ate most of them plain.

                          1. Report:

                            Arrival at Granville Island Wharf:
                            o - 11AM May 12
                            o - found the spot prawn piers via inquires - there is an office which sells ice - never run out
                            o - 1st boat of 2, pulls in at 12:30 PM - I'm 3rd in line - purchased 7 lbs at $14.00/lb to feed 8.
                            o - they were lively - fish were jumping:)

                            o - 3 bags of ice for 6 hours in soft sided cooler

                            o - steamed - chicken stock, white wine, garlic broth for 3 minutes
                            o - did 3 batches because of steamer size
                            o - accompanied with asparagus, oven roasted, coated with olive oil, salted, at 400 degrees F, ----for 8 minutes, and then coated with balsamic vinegar.
                            o - good quality bakery bread to sop up broth
                            o - dip, melted butter and lemon juice

                            o - the flesh was very sweet
                            o - the flesh was not mushy, it also was not muscularly firm
                            o - All 8 people enjoyed, including the squeamish :)

                            Tnx all

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: rosetown

                              Just back from the Cowichan Bay spot prawn festival. All vendors were selling for $10/pound, which represents a $1 increase in price from last year but is still pretty good compared to the prices quoted on this board. Bought 9 pounds (would have bought more had I brought more cash).


                              1. re: rosetown

                                Glad you at least had the spot prawns after missing out on the king crab season!

                                1. re: fmed

                                  Yeah, that is exactly my sentiment - next year, I'll plan for the beginning of king crab season, and for spot prawns, I'll make sure that the beasts go directly from the boat to the pot!

                                  I arrived back in Calgary yesterday afternoon after a whirlwind trip.

                                  I'm still curious if the flesh was close to ideal given the 6 hour lag - sweet, white, not mushy, but not muscularly firm. I welcome notions.

                                  1. re: rosetown

                                    It should be fairly firm. Definitely much firmer/denser than other more common shrimp but not quite like lobster.

                                    1. re: rosetown

                                      six hours might be pushing it with heads on. they should be almost crunchy/snappy firm if cooked from live. they do deteriorate quite quickly once they die if the heads are on.

                                      1. re: jcolvin

                                        So judging from feed back from you and fmed, they were past prime but still, for me, enjoyable.
                                        Next time, no mistakes.
                                        Still, a good education, for me, and perhaps to others.

                                2. Dockside Prawn Cocktail:

                                  live spot prawns
                                  freshly grated horseradish

                                  1. Give thanks to spot prawn.
                                  2. With bare hands shell live spot prawn, removing head, shell, and tail.
                                  3. Garnish thumb with horseradish.
                                  4. Place prawn/garnish into mouth; suck thumb upon retraction.
                                  4. Chew and enjoy!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: piatrus

                                    Don't forget to suck the head!

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      Are they still available out there. I am in Edmonton, and T&T is not advertising them. Had some a couple of weeks ago, live to pot, and they were great! $14.88/lb.

                                      1. re: golfer1

                                        Yep! The season usually lasts for about about two and half months starting around beginning of May. (Though I keep hearing that the season will be shorter this year.)

                                        Unrelated, but I have seen King Crab on sale at a few restaurants around town ($11.99/lb at Venice Garden just a couple of days ago, for example).

                                        1. re: fmed

                                          Just called T&T, they have them, but at $16.88 lb...getting pricy!

                                          1. re: golfer1

                                            They were still $12/lb at T&T Richmond yesterday...

                                      2. re: fmed

                                        Sucking raw spot prawn heads? I love the cooked ones, not so sure about raw ...

                                        The texture of live raw spot prawns is much more crunchy than if they have been allowed to relax for a few hours after decapitation. I actually prefer my amaebi once it has relaxed a bit; they seem to taste sweeter and I prefer the texture. Same goes for raw live scallops; eating them "ginki" is interesting, but I find they improve after having relaxed.

                                        1. re: jcolvin

                                          They still had them at T&T Richmond today ($12.99/lb).
                                          Squeamish about eating them raw ever since I saw the neighbors freshly captured "crayfish" were infested with weird worms,..perhaps a few glasses might quell the fear? ;-p
                                          Saw a post where a restaurant serves the raw tails along with the deep fried heads..sounds interesting!
                                          Having them tonight with dungeness & homemade scialatielli.

                                    2. Sat June 16/12 - Powell River Spot Prawn Festival --- so if you're on your way to Lund / Savary ---