Those Amazing Spot Prawns!

Based on my limited math skills, it appears that I have not blogged in close to two months.  Same lame excuses as usual.  Busy at the restaurant, lots of  stuff going on, busy with this, busy with that, blah blah blah.  I know, excuses are crap,  but it is true, I have been crazy busy and have not sat down in front of the computer in ages.  Well, “Jazzy” is currently napping and “Mr. Mom” (that’s me on Mondays) has temporarily got all “his ducks in a row”, so I’ve decided to “snap one off” and  blog about one of my favorite things about BC, the amazing BC spot prawn.

Have you ever had live BC spot prawns?  When I first arrived in BC in 2002, I barely heard of them and only ate them raw in high-end Japanese restaurants.  Well let me tell you, they are fantastic and are only available live for about two month of the year.  You can  enjoy them frozen year round, but nothing compares to the purity of a live spot prawn.  There’s about two weeks left in this year’s spot prawn season, so maybe I can get some of you excited about them and convince you to go try them out.  Spot prawns are known for their sweet, delicate, clean flavor and have a very pleasing, firm texture.  They are recognized by the white spots on their tail and are reddish-brown in color.  Interesting fact, spot prawns are hermaphrodites; for the first two years of their lives they are male and then change to females for the duration of their lives.  I was going to make a joke about “Momo” here , but that would be too easy.  Sorry, back to the spot prawn.  They typically live for four years and all mature prawns have the ability to spawn.  BC spot prawns are Ocean Wise and come from an exceptionally well managed and sustainable fishery.  A local, seasonal, delectable, sustainable delicacy; what more could you ask for?








Spot prawn season kicks off with the Chefs Table Society Spot Prawn Festival down at Granville Island.  2011 was their fifth year; every year it keeps on growing and they do an amazing job promoting these amazing prawns.  Seven years ago, no one really knew about spot prawns and the bulk of them were being exported to the Japanese market.  Though the festival is on a Saturday every year, I usually get my first delivery of spot prawns on Thursday or Friday.  I always anticipate my first spot prawns of the season and regardless of what we are doing, when they arrive in the Tapenade kitchen, we all stop our mise en place and enjoy a few of them raw immediately.  We’re a bunch of “food nerds” at heart and always smile and discuss their spot “prawn awesomeness” for the next while and figure out how we’re going to feature them.  The highlight of the 2011 spot prawn season was when the boys from Organic Ocean took me and some of my boys from the Tapenade kitchen brigade out spot prawn fishing.  It’s a big deal for us to see where our ingredients come from and to see the work required to provide us with these perfect specimens.  On our Monday off, “Great Wall”, “Momo” and I got up early and met down at Granville Island and  what a great morning we had out at sea.   No rain, beautiful prawns, awesome fishing stories, I didn’t get sea-sick and a tasty lunch on the water.  Thanks again to Frankie and Steve of Organic Ocean and check out these photos of our spot prawn adventure.

Some more spot prawn action.  Through out the spot prawn season, we get a fair bit of media coverage about how we serve them at Tapenade and their sustainability back story.  I’m more than pleased to tell the tale of the spot prawn; a recent highlight was when we had a group of Seattle food bloggers visit us and this is what Ronald Holden of had to say about it.

Also, a couple of weeks back, Chris Stanley of the Richmond Reel came by Tapenade and shot this short video about how we serve spot prawns at the Tapenade.  It was a sunny, fun afternoon of tasty spot prawns, good wine and a couple of cameras.

Listen to me, go try some spot prawns!  The season is almost over and you won’t get another chance till May of 2012.  Go visit Frankie and Steve down at the Granville Island Fisherman’s Wharf and pick up some live prawns to cook at home or come by Tapenade Bistro where I will be featuring them until the end of the season.   Spot prawns are awesome and you really need to go experience them.  Now, if only I could get people this excited about our upcoming sardine season.


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