Things I Love: Spot Prawns

July 2, 2016

IMG_3892 (1)Two years ago today I was in Alaska.  I’ll never forget the air in Juneau; it was the most delicious substance I’ve ever inhaled, and I stood there, taking it in, thinking I’d never breathed real air before.  It was so clean, so fresh, so bracing it seemed like all I needed to sustain life.

But then there was the seafood….

I loved the salmon and the crabs, but for me the biggest treat was the spot prawns we pulled out of the trap every morning.  They were so wonderful we simply at them raw – and then fried the heads and ate those too.


No shrimp I’ve eaten since have come close. But I’ve been thinking about them….

Here’s the problem: shrimp have an enzyme right behind the head that goes to work the minute the shrimp die, turning the flesh to unpleasant mush. So you don’t want to buy a dead spot prawn with its head on.  And the heads are so delicious….

Still, if the shrimp are decapitated the moment they’re pulled out of the ocean, and then instantly frozen, they should taste good. Worth a try, I thought. So yesterday I ordered frozen spot prawns from  Great Alaska Seafood.

I peeled them, sauteed them very briefly in butter and added a splash of lemon juice. That’s all. They were, hands down, the best shrimp I’ve eaten in New York state.  Sweet, clean tasting, the texture smooth, subtle and pliant rather than firm.  Although they were frozen, they tasted as if they’d just emerged from the ocean.

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At $20 a pound they weren’t cheap, but it was the shipping that sent them over the top.  Shipping’s free if you order eight pounds, and next time I’ll order a lot.  Knowing I’ve got these shrimp sitting in the freezer, ready to turn any ordinary day into a special occasion, will make me very happy.


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  • John says:

    Your food and recipe descriptions trigger my OCD. Luckily, for a “recipe cook” like myself, the dishes I’ve prepared from your books have always worked well (Mushroom Soup, Matzo Brei, Spaghetti Carbonara, to name a few). The Bisteeya still has me stumped, but I’m not giving up yet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to ordering the spot prawns. I’ve always loved shrimp, so I’m betting these will become a “special occasion” staple.

  • Jerry Boak says:

    Ruth, check out Otolith Sustainable Seafood in Philly. Her family catches the prawns in the summer, freezes on their boat and ships them back to Phil. And they deliver! Lovely article, as always.