About Spot Prawns

Latin Name:
Pandalus platyceros

Other Common Names:
Spot Shrimp

Description: Spot prawns are the largest of the 7 commercial species of shrimp found in Canadas west coast waters. The prawns body colour is usually reddish brown or orange with white horizontal bars on the carapace (shell) and distinctive white spots on the first and fifth abdominal segments. While large females can exceed 23 cm (9 inches) in total length, the restricted carapace (shell) size limit for harvest is 33 mm (1 1/3 inch) long.

The spot prawn is known for its sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture.

Product Forms: Prawns are available live, fresh, fresh landed then frozen, and frozen-at-sea (FAS). Fresh and frozen prawns are available whole or tailed (head and thorax removed).

Availability: Fresh and live prawns are available during the harvest season which usually starts in May and lasts approximately 80 days. Frozen prawns are available year round.

Buying Tips: When buying spot prawns ensure that they feel firm, have few or no black spots and smell of the sea with no hint of ammonia. Buy live and you will be guaranteed that you have the best.

Storing Tips: Store thawed or fresh-cooked prawns in rigid, airtight containers for up to 3 days. For best quality, eat the prawns within 2 days of thawing.

Store frozen product at approximately -30° C (-20° F). Properly frozen prawns will last 9 months. Transport live prawns in aerated tanks at approximately 1 .5° C (35° F). Hold live prawns in aerated tanks between 5° C and 5 .5° C (41° F and 42° F) ensuring they are not overcrowded.

Preparation/Usage: Prawns can be prepared whole or as peeled and deveined. To quickly peel and devein prawns take a pair of sharp kitchen scissors and cut down the middle of the back shell right to the tail tip. Then break open the shell and pull it off leaving the tail attached. Finally pull or wash out the vein.

To thaw prawns, place the packaged product in the refrigerator overnight, or place package in cold water until defrosted.

While prawns can be grilled, baked, sautéed, boiled or steamed, they only require 1 to 2 minutes cooking time and are done when they just turn pink. Overcooking will toughen the prawns.

Sushi restaurants tend to serve the tail raw while in western cuisine, prawns are commonly sautéed in their whole or split form, or skewered and grilled.

Area of Origin and Range of Availability: Spot prawns are found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean from Unalaska Island, Alaska to San Diego, California, and in the northwestern Pacific Ocean from the Sea of Japan to the Korea Strait. While they are found in a depth range from the intertidal zone to 487 metres (1,598 feet), most commercial fishing in British Columbian waters occurs in depths of 40 metres to 100 metres ( 131 feet to 328 feet). In British Columbia, 65% of prawns are harvested in the inside waters of Vancouver Island.

Harvest Method: Spot prawns are commercially harvested in traps deployed on long-lines commonly from 50 metres to 150 metres (180 feet to 295 feet) onto the ocean’s rocky bottom. Prawn traps vary in size, can be either oblong or cylindrical in shape and feature about 2 or 3 funnel-shaped openings each. These baited traps are laid out along a bottom line with the position of the traps marked with surface buoys. In Alaska and British Columbia prawns are harvested with traps rather than the highly destructive practice of bottom trawls used for most other shrimp species.

Processing Method: While some prawns are harvested live and sold as fresh and live, the majority of the catch, which is destined for export, is frozen at sea and then finger packed. When finger packed, the prawns are first dipped in a sulphite solution to improve colour and storage characteristics, then individually laid into a clean, white one kilogram box. All prawns are laid in the same direction and with all antennae tucked into the box which must remain unmarred.

Markets: More than 90% of the commercial catch is frozen and exported to Japan. Most of the remainder is sold fresh or live directly in British Columbia.

Sustainability: A number of measures have been implemented over the years to sustain the industry including: limitation on the number of licences; trap per licence limitations; harvest log requirements; minimum mesh size restrictions; minimum harvest size requirements; required trap escapement modifications; vessel length restrictions; hail requirements; single haul per day limitations; maximum trap volume; implementation of a monitoring program; collection of management fees by licence holders, and; fishery closures implemented when the number of spawners falls below a predefined level.

Historical and Anecdotal Information: Spot prawns are protandric hermaphroditic meaning that each individual initially matures as a male and then passes through a transition stage to become a female. In British Columbia, spot prawns usually live for about 4 years, starting their lives as males and maturing at one year of age. They function as mature males for 2 years and then transform into females in their final year of life.
Per 3.5 oz/100 grams of raw edible portion

Calories 85
Total fat 0.4 g
Protein 20.0 g
Cholesterol 145.0 mg
Sodium 112.0 mg

Source: The Complete Seafood Handbook


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