BC Spot Prawns

Crustaceans are creepy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating them but do not like looking at them, especially when still alive. Place a 2lb bag of live prawns in my hand and watch me dance around like a child.

Last weekend marked the opening of the BC Spot Prawn season. Local chefs prepared fresh prawns for sampling and fishermen sold live prawns straight from the boat. For the remainder of the 8 week season, freshly caught spot prawns are available for purchase from the False Creek dock (just west of the entrance to Granville Island) after 1pm.

Joe attended the festival and came home with 2lbs, which we proudly called to tell me about. The man certainly loves his seafood. I came home late Sunday night to find he had prepared me a lovely spot prawn dinner. He even peeled my prawns for me.

Here is one of our spot prawn buddies, just before taking his hot bath:

BC Spot Prawns

The prawns are amazingly sweet and the flesh is slightly firm, yet tender. I couldn’t believe how enjoyable they turned out to be. And, as we would soon discover, simply prepared is the key. Drop the live prawns into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds or until the first prawn floats to the surface. Drain and eat. Now, how’s that for a quick dinner?

BC Spot Prawns

Every day this week, Joe continues to mention the spot prawns and yesterday we gave in and headed over to the wharf. We arrived just after 1pm to find a handful of people waiting for the boat to arrive. As we waited, more people slowly arrived and we all began mingle. Before long, we were lost in conversation and had almost overlooked the overdue boat.

It was an interesting mix of people, all of them friendly and talkative. I learned that one of the women held the same graduate degree (MLS) as I did, so she gave me the scoop on the library field. One man admitted he comes from a family of gourmet chefs, yet doesn’t know how to cook. As you can imagine, he was filled with cooking ideas and plenty of advice before he left.

We eventually said our goodbyes and headed home with 2lbs of spot prawns. Joe remembered a recipe for grilling the prawns which he wanted to try. He also decided to try a few broiled with a bit of creamy cheese.

I’m sure the alarm bells are already going off in your minds (and should have in ours). Heavy flavorings, grilling, broiling … it ruined the texture and hid the wonderful sweet prawn flavor. My advice (as was the guidance from the folks at the dock) is to just boil them quickly, then eat.

No fanciness or fussiness required.

Further reading on spot prawns:
The Return of the Spot Prawn – Tiny Bites
The BC Spot Prawn Festival Continues for 8 Weeks – Chefs Table Society
Fun with BC Spot Prawns – North Shore News

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  1. The first part of this post reminds me of a trip we took to Jamaica back when I was in high school. We were on one of the many day excursions we took, and stopped off at a road-side stand. I’m not sure if shrimp were offered or how I knew what was being sold, but I was handed the bag and the darn things still had their heads on! I did a first time freak and refused to touch the bag. I wonder now if they were any good….

  2. You didn’t mention how much I enjoyed the lovely sweetness of the juice and goodness inside the prawn heads :)

  3. I definitely agree with you on keeping it simple with prawns. As someone who grew up feeding on fresh seafood, you really just need to rely on the freshness to get you amazing taste. Thanks for the heads up on the festival. Hope I get to grab some before it ends!

  4. The picture of the live prawn is totally awesome! I agree, keep the cooking method of prawns simple and you will be rewarded with their wonderful flavor.

  5. Yes, the freakiness of holding a bag of live prawns…, I totally forgot about that.

    If it doesn’t make you squeamish, you should try them raw, dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and yuzu.

    I must head out there soon…

  6. Oh wow – the prawns (not shrimp) look so fresh! you may want them to die happy, so bathe them in steaming beer :0)

  7. Wow look how lively that prawns look. I’d rather have a fresh prawns like that over lobster any day! I echo your voice, I like my seafood extra fresh with minimum treatment and letting the ingredients speak for itself.

  8. I’ve the same issue about live prawns or fishes…and after a while boiling or cooking them, in that cases I’m near to vegans…

    I’d enjoy the sweetness of them with creamy cheese :)

    Excellent pics as always Allen!

  9. I agree! Simplicity really is the key with these. A squeeze of lemon and you’re done! You’re lucky to have them available so fresh!

  10. I should note that fresh prawns = lively prawns!

    I thought refrigeration would dampen their spirits but they were still pretty active little buggers. It took a few photos of the live prawn because he kept wiggling his way out of the tongs.

    We made two dipping sauces — one was a simple soy/chili sauce the other was a mix of melted butter, garlic, lime zest/juice, chile sauce, and cilantro. Once again, the sauces were a bit bold but when used sparingly, they complimented the sweetness of the prawns.

    I used to have a policy that I didn’t eat anything that I had to pick out of its shell. I’ve since relented and mellowed out on this rule. A few weeks ago we had excellent lobster and a king crab — delicious!

  11. I love live prawns, they are cute! And fresh as a matter of culinary point of view. :P But yeah good to have fresh lively prawns, simply boil them and dip in sauce. heaven!

  12. Yay for seafood! You certainly didn’t eat enough when you were in the Bay area, so hopefully Joe has converted you. Delicious and healthy– what’s not to love? Steamed is pretty good, but I do have a weak spot for grilled then buttered and garlicked. Nom nom nom.
    (This is taking a WHILE to get on my reader. Feedburner must be delayed again, grr)

  13. They are beautiful. You remind me that I have to go line up at the dock if I want some. People line up 1-2 hrs before 4 pm every day in Comox. I like mine plain like you did. Yum! Love that first picture.

  14. oh man! I can imagine how sweet the prawns were! I love them prepared simply too, just like you did…but dipped in a soy & scallion/ginger dip. yum! I’ve got to check out places to buy me some soon!

  15. We had quite the spot prawn bonanza last year (maybe there were 3 spor prawn posts?), but strangely not so much this year. And oh, I can’t stand it when crustaceans flail about as I’m holding them. I’m not the shrieking type but I involuntarily do so everytime I hold a MOVING crustacean! Lobsters are the worst offender!

  16. Great photos, fresh prawns are the absolute best!

    I really appreciate your advice about cooking them for just 30 seconds. I think that is the biggest problem that people run into with prawns, is over-cooking them and letting them become chewy. The meat can be so succulent and tender when they’re not overcooked.

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