Spot prawn season is so brief, it hardly seems fair. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you owe it to yourself to indulge as often as possible during the prawns’ fleeting season, from May to June.
Spot prawns are so sweet and succulent they need little fussing. Some purists eat them raw, sashimi style, fresh off the boat. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy them cooked, ever so briefly, with a pat of compound (flavoured) butter. If you don’t have compound butter on hand, regular butter and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice will do nicely.
Just promise me you won’t smother your delicate prawns in cocktail sauce. That’s no way to treat a gift from the sea.
■ 8 oz (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
■ 1/2 cup freshly chopped mixed herbs ~ parsley, dill, cilantro, chives, tarragon, or a combination of herbs
■ 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice – approximately one lemon
■ 1 clove garlic, finely minced
■ 1 jalapeño pepper or 1/2 a serrano pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
■ 1 tsp salt
■ 2 pounds (900 g) spot prawns, heads and shells removed (reserve and freeze for another use)
■ 1/4 cup herb butter
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the butter with the herbs, lemon juice, garlic and peppers. Mix until well blended. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon, salt and pepper if desired.
Melt 1 – 2 Tbsp compound butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches (so as not to crowd the pan), sauté the shrimp in butter for about two minutes or until the shrimp are just opaque in the center. Transfer the shrimp and any buttery juices to a plate. Repeat with the remaining shrimp. Don’t hesitate to melt additional herb butter to drizzle over the cooked shrimp.
Leftover herb butter can be wrapped in plastic, rolled up sausage style, and stored in the freezer. When it’s time for the next prawn feast, simply slice a few disks of herb butter and use as needed.
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