Just what is it about spot prawns? There is now a fully fledged, highly celebratory Spot Prawn Festival, a Chef’s Table Society event, at which freshly caught prawns are prepped and cooked in a dazzling array of styles by local celebrity chefs. But no matter the recipe, the approach, they all seem to wisely ensure the focus is clearly on the product itself. A spot prawn is delightful just to look at, with its candy-striped carapace and white spots on the tail. The flesh is brightly, sweetly favoured, firm, the shell turning bright red with cooking, a simple yet profound eating experience.
Which is why various international markets have started crowding the Steveston docks, buying up copious amounts of the catch, and thus driving prices skywards. For local chefs, and cooks of any stripe, this is getting to be a serious situation, in which a local delicacy has to have a ceiling on how much a person can reasonably be expected to spend on them. Sustainable fishery practises are firmly in place, as are commercial catch limits. The season for spot prawns is a scant six to eight weeks, so their arrival is certainly worth celebrating.
This year’s Festival, the 9th annual, is slated for May 17.