21 June 2011

Follow the British Columbia Food Trail Beginning on the Coast with Grilled Spot Prawns

Grilled Spot Prawns with Lemon Fennel and baby Arugula Salad

As seen on Honest Cooking...Here in the interior of British Columbia we herald in Spring with tender local asparagus, freshly shelled peas, and crimson stalks of rhubarb but on the coastal waters of British Columbia nothing ushers in Spring better than fresh live Spot Prawns. From May 1 until July 1, we have the opportunity to devour some of the freshest and best-tasting prawns in the world here in British Columbia which are one of the most tantalizing things to be found in our coastal waters. Sweet, firm, peachy-pink and tender, these alien-looking prawns are sustainably harvested by local fishermen. This means we are able to enjoy eating them well into summer and still feel good about it. The summer has been sneaking up pretty quickly with the window of opportunity to enjoy this delicacy being relatively short but rest assured we have rolled up our sleeves and feasted on local Spot Prawns often.

Early dawn in and around Vancouver Island the traps that have been out all night are collected by the stoic fishermen who deliver their catch to the market.  Now mid-season we have continually been enjoying huge, succulent British Columbia live spot prawns purchased right off the boats in Steveston, or from a local fishmonger who ventures out on the coastal waters and delivers her seasonal catch alive back to her shop for sale in my interior hometown. The only way to get them fresher is to live right on the coast and lay traps yourself. Spot Prawns are like gold!!!! Believe me they were still kicking and pleading when they arrived on my kitchen counter at home today!

A few weekends ago here in the Okanagan Valley we were lucky to attend the Okanagan's very first B.C. Spot Prawn Festival which was an overwhelming success beyond the organizers wildest dreams. Kelowna devoured more than 300 pounds of Spot Prawns shipped in from the coast in just over an hour. Local chefs prepared a variety of small plates for tasting such as Wild B.C. Spot Prawns with Lake Country Asparagus or Pan Seared Spot Prawn Tikka with Minted Snap Pea Salad. Proceeds from the event went to Ocean Wise, a Vancouver Aquarium program to ensure only sustainably-caught seafood is served across the province. Our first festival in the valley mimicked the festival that has been held in Vancouver for the past 5 years with resounding success.

Spot Prawns are natural, sustainable fast food. If you choose to boil them they cook in two minutes in a pot of boiling water. Enjoy their succulent meat alone or with a dipping sauce of your choice. A little twist, peel back the shell and you'll be taken away to the sun-baked shore. Their meat is intensely sweet and tender. I don't like to mask their mellow sea flavour so when making them at home I enjoy keeping the flavours simpler. I shared my favourite way with the Spot Prawn last year from legendary Canadian Chef Rob Feenie Sautéed British Columbia Spot Prawns with Garlic, Jalapenos and Spicy Mayo. This post is late in coming, and the season half over but rest assured we have been enjoying Spot prawns to their fullest extent.

Serve this delicacy with a loaf of crusty homemade bread to sop up all the juices, plenty of napkins and the ability to lick your fingers and what more could you ask for? Maybe perhaps to have the season last for more than eight weeks! Keep it simple and buy a ton of fresh prawns while they're here.

Don't forget to prepare my Spinach Kiwi Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing on Kitchen Play to win!

**Grilled Spot Prawns with Lemon Fennel and Baby Arugula Salad**
idea heavily adapted from  Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds head- and tail-on Spot prawns or jumbo shrimp
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons grappa or ouzo
  •  1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced crosswise plus 1/3 cup fennel fronds
  • 6 cups (lightly packed) baby arugula
TO MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE: In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the extra–virgin olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, sugar, salt, and plenty of pepper. (Several good grinds of pepper make the vinaigrette taste robust, a perfect complement to the fennel.) Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.

Chop the fennel fronds and measure out 1/3 cup. In a large bowl, combine the fennel, ¼ cup of the fennel fronds (saving the rest for garnish), and the arugula. Toss lightly to mix and set aside.

Using a small knife or kitchen shears, butterfly shrimp from tail to base of head, leaving peel and head on; devein.

 Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; saute until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in grappa, 1 tablespoon fennel fronds and 1/2 of prepared dressing.  Add prawns; toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Heat your grill to high heat. Grill prawns, brushing with marinade from bowl, until bright pink and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Shake the dressing vigorously again and then toss the salad with it to coat. Arrange the salad on 4 dinner plates.  Top with shrimp, garnish with remaining chopped fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Wow, Val! They look incredibly beautiful and sound delicious with the great vinaigrette. You're very fortunate to live where you can enjoy fresh prawns! These definitely make ours here in the stores pale in comparison and I'm filled with envy.

  2. Just amazing. I love prawns! I'm getting very curious about Vancouver. The TBEX conference (for travel bloggers) was held there over the weekend and all the bloggers are now writing about Vancouver. It looks fabulous - especially if it's got prawns! :)

  3. What a remarkable photo. What it didn't capture, your words did. This must be a wonderful treat. It certainly sounds delicious, Val. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  4. People were lining up in Comox when the fisherman were coming back to buy Prawns. I miss the fresh seafood. Your prawns looks so good served with a aragula salad.

  5. Wonderful! Prawns are so delicious. Delightful flavors. That dish is marvelous. Yummy!



  6. What an amazing PNW treat they must be! Such a lovely beautiful presentation. I rarely see head on shrimp here in the Midwest.

  7. What lovely dish Valli I love prawns!! xxgloria

  8. These spot prawns sound delicious! And I love that they are sustainable, this way you can feel good about eating them!

  9. Absolutely scrumptious, Val!! I love prawns so much and you've prepared them in such a light, springy way. Mmm. :-)

  10. Your photos are simply fantastic.This looks like something you could get in the very finest seafood restaurants!

  11. I love spot prawns. I have never had them that fresh though. Beautiful.

  12. I just want to rip off their heads and suck on them....is that wrong?

  13. A spot prawn festival sounds like one of the best places on earth.

  14. Here in New England, we wait for the Maine shrimp to come on ... then, it's shrimp and linguine for me or scampi, or salads topped by grilled shrimp! Yum! I think I need to try your salad treatment!

  15. I've never tasted spot prawns, but I know, just by looking at them, that I would love them. Really like the ouzo in this Val.

  16. That first picture is amazing, Val. And I love this recipe. From the fennel to the ouzo! Lots of lemon, too. Delish. wish I could be there to share. :)

    The festival must have been great fun. Enjoy your fresh spot prawns while they last!

  17. I am with Dragon....love thos pics.

  18. What a fantastic dish!

  19. Oh, so beautiful! How I wish I could do an actual, physical tour of the BC food trail...but I will settle for a virtual one. Delicious dish :D

  20. What a gorgeous shot here!


  21. Is to die for...I love shrimps.

  22. Beautiful prawns! And I really like what they're served with. This recipe is a keeper :D

  23. We have the asparagus, peas and rhubarb but, unfortunately, no spot prawns. I've read so much about them and hope to try them someday. I'll check Whole Foods.


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