BC Spot Prawn season: How to buy, prep, and eat

BC Spot Prawn season has arrived. A local delicacy, BC Spot Prawns are always met with excitement in the Lower Mainland.

The short window of availability, 30 days or so, depending on the harvest, usually creates a fun frenzy of people seeking them out around town, buying them to take home to enjoy, or ordering creative dishes from local restaurants.

Unlike some other prawns from around the world, BC Spot Prawns have a firm texture and are naturally sweet. They are also known for their reddish-brown colouring with distinctive white spots.

Here are some tips on how to buy, prepare, and eat this local delicacy we know and love as the BC Spot Prawn.

How to buy
Spot prawns at FISH (Jenice Yu)

If you are new to BC Spot Prawns, it’s always a great idea to start by buying live prawns.

Look for a translucent appearance. The prawns should also smell like the ocean in a good way. They should have an overall firm texture and not be soft or melty between the head and the body.

A large bucket or pail will ensure the live prawns stay safe and sound while travelling from store to home. Do not submerge prawns in tap water! Use an ice pack/bag of ice instead.

How to prep
Spot prawns at FISH (Jenice Yu)

Live spot prawns are best enjoyed on the same day. If you have plans to eat the prawns raw and sashimi-style, take extra care in choosing your prawns — eating them as quickly as possible so they stay fresh.

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If you must enjoy your prawns later, separate the head from the tail on the same day, and store in a closed-lid container in the coldest part of your refrigerator. This is because when spot prawns are left whole overnight, the heads will darken and tail meat can become mushy.

To peel prawns before cooking, use scissors to cut along the backside. However, it is much easier to peel prawns after they’ve been cooked. The shells are less brittle.

How to eat
Spot prawns at FISH (Jenice Yu)

There are a number of ways to enjoy BC Spot Prawns. I like to opt for simple ingredients to let the prawns’ natural sweetness shine.

Five of my favourite ways to prepare BC Spot Prawns include:

Sashimi style: I normally serve them with light soya sauce or ponzu sauce
You can deep-fry the heads after with a Japanese-style tempura batter, a popular way to enjoy the whole prawn. In addition, the shells are great for making stocks and bisque.
Ceviche: Easy to prepare and great for a hot summer day
Make a lime, orange, and lemon juice blend and submerge diced prawns until desired texture
Steamed: Serve with ginger and dark vinegar
Sauteed: Serve with butter and lemon juice
Poached: With coconut milk and lemongrass
At FISH, live BC Spot Prawns are now available. Be sure to get them while you can!