Spicy Glazed Spot Prawns Served Whole
While the bright orange shell of these cooked prawns bears resemblance to shrimp, I find their meat to be more similar to tender lobster tails than to shrimp. In this recipe, when the honey in the sauce is added to the pan, it caramelizes to form a sweet and spicy glaze on the prawns. These can be eaten alone as an appetizer but I like to serve these whole shrimp alongside crispy jasmine rice and vegetables for a complete meal.
Spot prawns are a delicious but unfortunately the season during which the west coast based prawns are harvested is incredibly short. It usually starts at the end of May and lasts about 10 weeks. I was lucky to find some at my local seafood market, Santa Monica Seafood! While the short season can be frustrating, the way they are harvested (limiting the number of boats and traps) makes them a sustainable catch.
When you buy spot prawns live, either cook them that day or remove the heads before storing them. When spot prawns die they release an enzyme which turns the meat mushy. You can tell if they are dead because they will develop black spots on them. Since these prawns can be fickle you can use this same recipe with large head-on shrimp as a substitute.
Staring down at whole shrimp can be intimidating. To eat the whole shrimp, first twist the head off and suck out the juices then either eat the rest of the shrimp (shell and all) or peel the shell away and eat the remaining meat.
12 head-on, tail-on spot prawns or tiger shrimp (about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 Fresno chilies, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Thai basil leaves, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving
Score down the back of the prawns with a sharp knife and remove the thin vein with the tip of the knife. Repeat with the remaining prawns. Pat the prawns completely dry. Season the prawns on both sides with kosher salt and pepper.
In a small bowl stir together the canola oil, chilies, rice wine vinegar, garlic, fish sauce, lime zest, lime juice and honey until completely combined.
Heat a large pan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the shrimp to the pan. Pan fry, stirring occasionally and turning the shrimp, until the prawns are no longer opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes total. Add the sauce and let reduce about 15 seconds, shaking pan constantly. Add the prawns to a serving platter and top with the sauce.
Garnish with cilantro, basil and lime wedges.
I get my fresh seafood from a local store, Santa Monica Seafood, as it has a great selection of fish with plenty of sustainable options. Click the link here for an exclusive coupon for your next order from Santa Monica Seafood!