Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spot Prawns - Gambas al Ajillo

It's Spot Prawn season in Vancouver and we love it!  They are sustainable and they are delicious!

"Every animal has developed unique ways to ensure its survival. For spot prawns, this means starting life as a male before changing into a female, a characteristic called sequential hermaphroditism. The advantages of changing sexes halfway through life is not well understood but obviously works for spot prawns, as well as many other animals including fish, bivalves, and plants."
Source:  David Suzuki

Try to purchase live prawns if possible. Luckily for us in the Greater Vancouver area, during live spot prawn season they are readily available and plentiful in most Asian seafood shops.  Cook your spot prawns immediately or remove  their heads as soon as possible. Spot prawns have an enzyme in the head that begins to permeate through the tail and turns the meat mushy. Do not buy spot prawns with black heads.   The Spot Prawn season is about 8 weeks long, usually from May to July.  I bought several pounds of very lively ones for $8.88 per pound this weekend. 

We enjoy them most often by simply steaming or boiling for about 2 minutes and dipping them in a light soy sauce with a hint of sesame oil and finely julienned bird's eye chili.  The succulent spot prawn meat is a sweet luxurious treat.  Besides enjoying the lovely sweet tail meat, don't' forget to suck out all the yumminess from the prawn head!  

This night we were were having an evening of Spanish Tapas, so  I prepared these spot prawns in
the style of Gambas al Ajillo....prawns in garlic.


2 lbs Spot Prawns (approx 20-25 prawns)
6 Cloves of Garlic
1 red Chilli pepper
4 tablespoons of good Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon of Salt
A handfull of chopped Parsley

Preparation of Gambas al Ajillo

Peel and finely chop the cloves of garlic. I use a micro-plane grater to make quick work of this.
Finely chop the chili pepper.  Discard some of the seeds if you want to control the heat.
Add the olive oil to your skillet and heat until hot, turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, salt,  prawns and the hot red pepper.  If they are live you will have to keep a close eye as they tend to want to jump out of the pan! Toss about for about 5 minutes, until the prawns have turned bright pink – sprinkle with salt and parsley and serve with chunks of warm bread. (see my no knead bread recipe here)  There you have it, Gambas al Ajillo – succulent and delicious!


  1. Heidi and I are reading your blog, drinking cava and looking out to the Mediterranean.

  2. I'm so jealous!
    drink some cava for me. :-)