After I read Fast Food Nation I didn’t eat a hamburger for over a year. And I’ve learned how truly harmful shrimp “farms” are, with tales of environmental degradation, toxic pesticides, destruction of small local shrimping operations, and even suspicious death of some opposed to huge shrimp farms. It’s not a pretty picture, people!
But here in the Pacific Northwest we have beautiful wild spot prawns and shrimp. Former Gourmet magazine editor Barry Estabrook is on to our not-so-secret and raves about our Northwest prawns. You can’t get them year-round, but that makes them all the more special when they are available, which is usually late spring to mid to late summer, about two months.
Today I picked up some spot prawns at Snow Goose Produce in Conway, Washington, up in the Skagit flats, fresh from Rosario Strait in the San Juan Islands. If you’re more determined, you can get a permit to go shrimping yourself in Puget Sound, as Langdon Cook chronicles on his wonderful blog Fat of the Land.
It goes without saying that these fresh, local prawns tasted incredible; they were sweet without any sweetening added. I treated them very simply, and the result was, I must boast, excellent. Here’s my “recipe,” although I can’t give you specific amounts—just go with your instincts for how many you will be serving.
Wild Spot Prawns Linguine with Garlic and Lemon
Wild spot prawns or shrimp (about 4 or 5 per person, depending on size)
minced fresh garlic
minced shallots or small cipolline onion
fresh-squeezed lemon juice
touch of sea salt
fresh grated parmesan
Cook up the linguine al dente (I used a mixture of spinach and plain), drain and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, divvy individual servings into wide bowls, and set aside.
Heat a sauté pan, and then add enough olive oil to cover the pan surface.
Sauté the shallots or onion until soft, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute, stirring nonstop.
Add the shelled prawns and sauté until pink (but not any longer!), then pour in lemon juice and stir for another few seconds to heat. Mine were pre-cooked so I just reheated in the pan for a bit.
Spoon the shrimp mixture over the pasta, salt to taste, grate some good fresh parmesan on top, and sprinkle with fresh chives.
Enjoy with a fresh green salad and a crisp, dry white wine.
Have you ever gone shrimping? Do you have a favorite way to prepare fresh shrimp? Do tell under Comments below.
Where to Go
Check your local fish monger for wild spot prawn availability. Any American- or Canadian-sourced wild prawn is relatively safe because of our stricter regulations about reducing by-catch. Wild prawns from other parts of the world are not so well regulated and therefore suspect.