Thursday, August 4, 2011

Northwest Flavors: Wild Spot Prawns

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)
olive oil
minced fresh garlic
minced shallots or small cipolline onion
fresh-squeezed lemon juice
touch of sea salt
fresh linguine
fresh grated parmesan
minced chives

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.

Bon appetit!

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.


Mike B. said...

Stop it- now I'm hungry.

Can't say I cook shrimp too often since my family doesn't love them, but I think I'll pick some up soon.

jill said...

Hey Mike,
Hope you find some. These are in a whole different taste category than what most associate with shrimp. No comparison to what you get in the usual restaurants unless it's one of those fancy, local, seasonal, farm-to-table places.

Allison said...


OK. I am sold! Did I miss it, or generally when is the season for wild spot prawns? We may be back for Bumbershoot...Allison

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for the recipe. Looks delicious. I'm definitely trying this one.

jill said...

Hey Allison! Here's a link to the shrimp season in Washington. Looks over for spot shrimp - although this is for recreational, and those I got were commercial. Snow Goose hasn't updated their monthly in season list for August. I think they won't be around by Labor Day but not sure. would love to see you!

Kim, good luck finding some and would love to hear how it turns out for you if you do!

DaveOnFidalgo said...

Try them with a light Creole sauce on rice sometime.

jill said...

Dave, sounds marvelous! Actually takes me back to New Orleans and an amazing shrimp creole dish over rice that I remember well at Tujagues, the second oldest restaurant in the city, in the French Quarter. I just got a salad, but my friend kindly let me have a taste of his incredible dish. I should have followed the Southerner's lead and ordered what he did!

Anonymous said...

Sounds very yummy Jill. Thanks for posting this!


Vivien said...

Nice- I learned about farmed shrimp as well and they havent sounded as good ever since...

Kathleen O'Dell said...

Those are gorgeous! Yeah, farmed shrimp are raised in sewage and bombarded with a potent cocktail of antibiotics--a great treat for a girl with a UTI, but not so much for a dinner party....

Darlene said...

Went out yesterday in the Puget Sound around Hoods Canal in Washington State put out the shrimp pot and came home with 100 of them.....the limit is 80 but my buddy gave me some of his....brought them home and sauteed with hot chili oil and seseme oil......served with gnocchi and gorgonzola. oh man.....just wanted to take a bath in it!!!!!!!

jill said...

Hey Darlene,
I'm jealous! I heard that yesterday was opening shrimp season day (or only day?) and that there were some whales (orcas and...grays?) spotted in Hood Canal too, perhaps looking for shrimp. 100 spot prawns! Lucky you. Sounds incredible.