Fresh BC Spot Prawn Recipes
I love fresh prawns and I love them simply grilled whole or in this recipe of prawns in a rich tasting yet light tomato fennel broth. Spot prawn recipes tend to be quick to cook and are usually steamed, boiled, pan fried or grilled. Stewing is not recommended as they should only be cooked a few minutes so they don't dry out or get tough. Most cooking methods will have them cooked in about 2-4 minutes, talk about fast food!
Commercial Prawn Fishing In BC
Prawns are a really healthy protein rich in nutrients yet low in calories and fat and just about the best seafood money can buy. I may be biased because I grew up in a prawn (and salmon, shrimp, octopus etc) fishing family but I know a lot of people agree.
For those that don't know me well, I used to commercial fish here on the West Coast of Canada. I mostly deck handed with my dad, occasionally I worked on other boats too. Over the years I fished salmon, prawns, shrimp and halibut and each fishery was different.
Spot Prawn Season
May in BC is the start of a short Spot Prawn season, a fishery that is run very sustainably with very little by-catch. Each boat must have a license which allows for a set amount of traps which fishers are allowed to pull up from the sea once per day during daylight hours.
Prawns tend to live along steep cliffs and shores. Because of the way they are processed on board, boats often fish in relatively sheltered areas as compared to other fisheries like salmon, crab or halibut. Live prawns need to be kept safely alive in tanks and prawns getting processed for freezing at sea need accurate weighing, measuring and packaging.
This makes for a pretty nice fishery-one where you actually get to sleep at night and get to shore occasionally to explore the inlets, old logging camps and beaches (as long as there is no broken gear that you're staying up to fix before morning). The fishery has changed drastically over the years. When I first started fishing prawns, there was no limit on how long or how many times a day you could pull the traps. I can tell you it was definitely a more physically demanding job back then!
If I sound sentimental, it's because I am. Although there were times I was exhausted and never wanted to see another prawn again, there were many more times of seeing amazing untouched beauty away from civilization, seeing sea creatures I never knew existed and of course eating all the fresh prawns!
The Prawn Ceremony
My brother, Tavis, and I who spent a few seasons deck handing together would ceremoniously eat the first prawns of the season raw before then cooking up a feast. Often we ate them steamed or pan fried with garlic butter (cook gently just until opaque and immediately remove from heat so they don't over cook) but after we'd had our fill, it was time to get creative. I can't count the number of recipes we tried over the years but it was a lot!
Today I'm sharing two spot prawn recipes, Prawns In Fennel Tomato Broth and simple Grilled Spot Prawns. You can also check out my Wild West Coast Shrimp Cocktail Mexican Style another west coast shrimp recipe that works well with prawns too.
These are both delicious and easy. The first because the broth can be made ahead and then gently reheated to poach the prawns in and the second recipe needs nothing more than a hot grill and a little herbed garlic butter to baste with. Do you have another favourite spot prawn recipe? Let me know below in the comments!
Head To The Fishermen's' Wharf In May
Spot prawn season will only last a month or two so be sure to get down to your local fishing wharf or fishmonger to buy some fresh or frozen at sea, you won't be dissappointed! (Here in Campbell River you can buy live prawns at Crabby Bob's at the fisherman's wharf)
Happy spring my Friends!
Spot Prawns In Tomato Fennel Broth
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Shallot, Finely Chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
- ½ teaspoon Anise Seed
- Pinch Hot Pepper Flakes
- 1 Large Tomatoes, 1" Dice
- 1 Bulb Of Fennel, Whites 1" Dice And Fronds Reserved For Garnish
- 2 c Vegetable Broth
- 1 Navel Orange, Zested And Juiced
- 2 lb Prawns, Left Whole Or Peeled
- 1 Bunch Parsley, Coarsely Chopped For Garnish
- In a wide saucepan with high sides (see picture), heat olive oil on medium heat and saute shallot, garlic, anise seed and hot pepper flakes until onion is translucent but not browned.
- Add tomato and cook until mushy, then add fennel and saute until slightly softened.
- Add broth, orange zest and juice and bring to a simmer. Prepare bowls in a warm oven, bread or toast if serving and set table. Once you are ready, add prawns to broth and cook just until opaque.
- Once prawns are cooked, serve them in bowls immediately with plenty of broth and garnished with fennel fronds and parsley.
Easy Grilled Prawns With Garlic And Parsley Butter
- 1 lb Fresh Spot Prawns Fresh whole prawns or fresh tails or thawed prawn tails.
- ¼ c Butter
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoon Parsley, Finely Chopped
- 1 clove Garlic, Minced
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice, Fresh Squeezed
- 3-6 drops Hot Sauce
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium high.
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, melt butter with olive oil, parsley, garlic and lemon juice in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Stir together and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Be generous with the salt as it will be brushed thinly over all the prawns.
- Organize your prawns, melted garlic butter, basting brush and a plate to put cooked prawns on beside the grill. Place prawns on the grill then baste with garlic butter and close lid for 1 minute. Open and flip prawns and baste again then close lid for 1 more minute.
- Open lid and check prawns, removing any that are opaque through and let remaining cook until just opaque. Depending on the heat of your grill, this shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes. Once all prawns are on plate, drizzle remaining butter mixture over and serve immediately.
DAMN, girl!! this post is making me drool in the worst way...Spot Prawn season is one of the most wonderful times of the year...I sure wish they were more accessible here in Calgary. I'd make this recipe in a heartbeat!
Thanks Bernice! Yes, they are so delicious, sorry they’re not so accessible where you are but hopefully over time they’ll arrive there more often as people focus on supporting Canadian food products 🇨🇦 but of course frozen at sea prawns work beautifully too 🦐
Leanne | Crumb Top Baking
I had no idea you used to commercial fish! I can only imagine some of the beautiful scenery you were able to enjoy as you worked. Those prawns look so perfect for grilling, and the broth sounds so flavourful. The perfect pairing for sure!
Thanks so much Leanne! No better scenery than pristine unspoiled inlets and mountains for sure 💚
It just doesn't get any better than grilled wild prawns, I mean yum!
Right?!?! West Coast seasonal treats 🙂
My husband absolutely loves this - he says there's nothing as good as fresh prawns that are grilled and hot.
Thanks Micki, I totally agree, with fresh ingredients, simple is often the best!
Melanie @ Non Appét'Eat
We are loooooove pawns and this looks so delicious! My father in law is in the seafood business as well and we get to try some amazing pawns too 😉
Thanks Melanie! I miss getting them straight off the boat but have a local fishmonger here that’s right on the dock so it’s the next best thing. Enjoy the season 🦐💛🦐
I love fresh prawns and grilling or cooking them with garlic and herb butter gives them a unique flavour and makes them so delicious. Nothing like fresh prawns. Yumm!
I agree, thanks Fouzia!
I'm in prawn heaven. I absolutely love spot prawns, and the opening of the season is always so exciting. I have to say, I'm a little jealous of your access to the freshest of the fresh (and, let's face it - the free-est of the free, because these bad boys have gotten pricey). Both of your recipes sounds spectacular, but I'm especially taken with the tomato orange fennel broth. What a delightful way to highlight such a wonderful seafood!
OH you are sooo very lucky to get such fresh prawns! I love prawns dearly, but am unfortunately, land-locked! I guess I'll be trying these recipes with frozen, although I know they'll still be incredible!
Thanks for your comment Terri. So sorry there aren’t fresh ones where you are but frozen will work great anyway. Enjoy 🙂