Pacific Prawns- روبيان المحيط الهادئ
Pacific Prawns, or Spot Prawns are the culinary gem of the Salish Sea. From the cooks standpoint, prawns are splendid because they are nature's best fast food. These prawns are so delicious straight from the sea, a perfect preparation could not be easier.
Fill a large pot with water and add a couple of tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning. Cover the pot and place over high heat. When the water begins to boil, drop in the prawns and cover the pot. Cook until the prawns are just firm. Be careful not to overcook. Some like to boil their prawns in beer.
Lucky diners can pop off the heads, peel away the soft shell around the body and enjoy. The meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender, with a delicate flavor and a fine amount of brine.
It's such a perfectly packaged bite, we rarely bother with a sauce. If you would like to gild this Lily, drawn butter with a little garlic, an aioli (with or without a little saffron), or curry powder mixed into a good quality mayonnaise are all good dipping options.
If you are fortunate enough to pull up a large catch, save some for a rainy day.
The prawns can be quickly "headed". Yes, just snap the heads off, store them in freezer bags and put them in the freezer.
"Skimmers" (available in Splendid Items) are a great way to process a large batch of prawns, as the water continues boiling (and becoming more flavorful), cooked prawns can be removed and fresh prawns can be added. When all of the prawns have been cooked, the water can be reduced to create a flavorful stock. For even more flavor intensity, return the prawn shells to the water before boiling. Strain broth before using.
Cooked prawns will last for about 2 days tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.
If a Salish cruise isn't in the plans, store bought prawns will do. We recommend buying frozen wild caught prawns in bulk or in sealed bags from the grocery store. The majority of the prawns sold at fish counters were previously frozen at sea and have been thawed at the store -- but for how long?
Buy the prawns frozen, and move the frozen prawns to the refrigerator (put the sealed container in a bowl) to thaw overnight. If you need the prawns more quickly put the frozen prawns in a colander in the sink at room temperature, they will thaw in about 2 hours. Rinse the prawns with cool water and bring the flavor of the sea to your kitchen.
How does one come across a pot of fresh Pacific Prawns, you may ask?? Well, many opt to hope for luck at the local fish shops or stands. For those who want to take matters in their own hands it requires a little time, patience and a few loonies (Canadian dollars) for equipment and a licence.
On most any dock on the Salish, recreational prawners listen up when there is talk of a good prawn ledge. This is a flat surface somewhere between 150 - 500 feet beneath the sea, where a prawn trap can rest and attract these lovely, plump, coral invertebrates. You can bet, an "X" marks the spot on each sailors chart.
Once the location is identified, the next factor is the timing, how long do you leave the darn thing down there?? A couple of hours? Overnight? Then of course, the almighty bait-debate -- pellets, Friskies seafood mix, raw chicken, fish heads...attractant?
What, oh what, can we use to entice these dear delectables into our perfectly placed pots??? We like to combine pellets (prawn bait) with something fresh and have found best results when the traps have been left overnight.
Pots (or traps) can be bought at sporting goods stores or marine stores. There are two great sources that carry everything you will need online, McKays and John's. Prawn traps come in all shapes and sizes. Our prawning crew has found greatest success when they have used square or octagonal shaped traps with rigid metal sides. Circular traps have not produced prolific prawns.
Be sure to have plenty of line (at least 600 feet) and a storage system for the line. Some coil stack their lines in large baskets, others coil their line on a reel. A small anchor or weight on the pot will keep it at the bottom of the ocean, where the prawns like to prowl. Additional weights will keep the line in the right position. Bait cages or bags are needed, as well as a buoy to identify where you have dropped your pot (be sure to write your name, phone number and boat name on the buoy). All of these things are available from the above mentioned sources.
Pulling up the line is a wonderful upper arm workout, which can be great. For the lazy ladies and lads amongst us, one may want to invest in a pot puller, plugged into your vessel, or gas powered, this little darling will do the heavy lifting for you. McKays and John's can set you up.