By Rob Feenie
VANCOUVER – Nothing says spring to me more than fresh live spot prawns.
From May 1 until July 1, we get to devour some of the freshest and best-tasting prawns in the world here in British Columbia. They even get delivered right to our back door.
Every morning in and around Vancouver Island the traps that have been out all night get collected. By 2 in the afternoon, the fishermen arrive at Granville Island, sell their catch right off the boat, and deliver the rest to market.
Normally the best prawns are exported to Asia – when picking live prawns, the bigger the better – and we are often left with the smaller, less desirable ones.
But if you get to know the right fisherman, in my case my good friend Steve Johansen (his company is Organic Ocean) you can get your hands on the large ones – the crème de la crème. They are like gold. If you order in advance, fishmongers will usually hold on to the big ones for you.
Like many chefs these days, I am very much in support of sustainable fishing. The great thing about spot prawns is that they are so well regulated that the stocks are constantly repopulating, and prawn lovers can feast without feeling the least bit guilty.
I have learned over the years that, when it comes to cooking seafood, simple is always best; the last thing you want to do is overcomplicate a seafood dish. You don’t want to overpower the prawns’ indescribable sweetness – which is the best thing about them.
So the recipe below focuses on li’l time and lotsa’ eat! This recipe goes way back to a vivid memory I have of my days in Sweden when I was just 16.
Living in Scandinavia in my late teens opened my eyes to an entire new world of food, which inspired my decision to become the Chef I am today.
At exactly this time of year I went with my host family to the fish market in Gothenburg to pick up what seemed to me at the time to be pounds and pounds of prawns.
We brought them home, steamed them with a little white wine, garlic and dill, and served them in a huge basket in the middle of the table with nothing more than mayonnaise and crusty bread.
All I’ve done here is add a touch of heat and a lot of garlic. Remember: Keep it simple and buy a ton of fresh prawns while they’re here.
Sautéed B.C. Spot Prawns with Garlic, Jalapenos, Fresh Herbs and a Spicy Mayo
WHAT YOU NEED:
3-4 pounds live prawns
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
1 cup dry white wine
1 whole lemon
Freshly cracked black pepper
WHAT YOU DO:
n a 12-14 inch sauté pan, on medium heat add olive oil, butter and garlic, lightly sauté.
Turn heat up, add prawns and jalapenos. Toss for 1-2 minutes.
Turn heat back to medium, add white wine, and cook for another minute.
Add parsley, juice of lemon and finish freshly cracked black pepper, serve immediately in a large bowl.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 cup of mayo
1 tablespoon of Sambal Oelek
WHAT YOU DO:
Mix and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, heat up your favourite crusty bread, place mayo in the middle of table with prawns and have fun.
Rob Feenie is co-owner and chef at Vancouver’s Lumiere and Feenies, a cookbook author and Iron Chef America champion.
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