A crunchy Northwest treat: Deep-fried salt-and-pepper spot prawns

| June 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

I had always heard of spot prawn’s reputation for sweet meat and firm texture when cooked. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I called around Salem and Portland to find out where I could get them.

There are places that actually sell them live! At Uwajimaya and Ohm Seafood in Portland and Ocean Star seafood in Salem, spot prawns swim in tanks of salt water. Their unique translucent pink shells are mesmerizing.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, spot prawns are the target of fisheries in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, where density and weather conditions allow recreational harvest. In Oregon, spot prawns are generally found far offshore in depths beyond 500 feet and in densities that necessitate an amount of gear that would be considered ungainly by most sport boat owners.

A small amount of commercial fishing does exist in Oregon, and the good news is that if you can find Oregon-caught spot prawns, they are among the largest shrimp on the planet. A world record 65-mm (2.6 inches) carapace length has been measured and 4 count per pound has been recorded.

One of my favorite Chinese dishes, fried salt-and-pepper shrimp, where shrimp are deep fried whole and then sprinkled with salt and fresh ground pepper, inspired me to try the method with spot prawns. I figured that it would highlight the sweet meat of the spot prawns to cook them this way. Plus deep frying them with the heads on would mean that after removing the shell from the head and most of the legs, you could eat the remaining head with crunchy bits, like the way heads of amaebi shrimp are deep fried and served to diners to crunch on whole.

Deep-Fried Salt-and-Pepper Spot Prawns

Serves 3


4-6 cups (.94 to 1.4 l) oil for deep frying

1 pound (453 g) live spot prawns

Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in wok over high heat.

Deep fry prawns in two batches, waiting a few minutes between batches so that the oil heats back up.

Place prawns on plate and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Serve immediately.

Note: If you want a nice garnish, deep fry some parsley to sprinkle on the plate.


— Vic


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Category: Seafood, Uncategorized

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

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