BC Shrimp

May 17, 2010


I didn’t know it when I was younger, but I was spoiled with food. From the best futomaki in all the world to fresh-pressed apple juice from our backyard apple tree. Of course, I was appalled at the apple juice that we pressed. It was brown, murky and had a tendency to separate. “Blech, why can’t we buy Sun-Rype like everyone else?! This is gross.” Oh, stupid girl. I wanted my juice clear, sparkling and from a tin. My grandfather was a Japanese-Canadian commercial fisherman, and I was quite accustomed to the best, freshest salmon, octopus and spot prawns. I didn’t know spot prawns were called spot prawns, we just called them shrimp. They would be served, with about 40 other dishes, at most of our family gatherings. Platters of them, piled high, boiled and served at room temperature or cold, in shell. There is not a better meal than a plate of never-ending shrimp with the odd piece of sushi and some ohitashi.

It seems, and rightly so, that spot prawns are all the rage in Vancouver lately. I’m pleased that we’re all learning about a great choice for shrimp in our own backyard. There are a lot of ways to prepare BC shrimp, or spot prawns, and most of our local chefs have some fine recipes. But, for me, the best way to prepare them is simply boiled. Buy them live. They are very energetic, they will twitch and flip their way out of an open bag and try to make a run for it. Their very liveliness might make you scream like a girl. Pull yourself together. Square your shoulders, take a deep breath and get on with the business of a shrimp boil.

For Two

3 pounds of fresh, live shrimp (I think they’re called spot prawns because of the white dots that they sport on each side)

sea salt, about 2 teaspoons

big pot of boiling water

soy sauce

Buy your live shrimp from T&T Supermarket, if you can. I bought some on special this past Saturday for $7.99 a pound, which is a steal. Or you can buy them right off the boats near Granville Island for $12 a pound. Get some, bring them home. The bag that they’re in will lurch and twitch. You should cook them right away. If they sit in the fridge and start to suffer, or die, that’s just mean. Plus, it will make their meat mushy. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add about two teaspoons of sea salt. Open the bag, at least one will try to make a run for it. Swiftly turn your bag of shrimp into the water. I walk away, discard the bag, wash my hands and return to task. I don’t stay to watch them cook. At least 30 seconds will have passed and your shrimp will be done. Empty shrimp into a colander in the sink and run cold water over them until they’ve cooled. Pile onto a plate and serve with soy sauce. A quick swish through a bit of soy is absolute perfection with the sweet, tender meat.

Ready to Peel

Run Spot Run

Oops. Too slow.


4 Responses to “BC Shrimp”

  1. katie said

    GREAT post miss!! A tip…if you are NOT going to cook them right away, you need to take their heads off immediately…that is what contributes to them going mushy and oozing extra gross black liquid..

    • dawnegourley said

      Oh, you are so smart. I did not know that about taking the heads off. But, wow, that’s not for the faint of heart.

  2. Kat said

    Ohhhhhh….. I had these first hand and all I have to say is yummmmmmmmmmm.
    I am planning on getting my very own this week and racing them down the hallways, then boiling and dipping…..

  3. Fionna said

    Oooooohhhhh, Dawne, you’re mean, mean, mean!!! I love this post – it’s so wickedly funny and gooood. My dad used to boil prawns almost right from the fishing boats when we lived in Asia – this reminds me of the smackingly good times. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: