Everything You Need To Know About BC Live Spot Prawns

Everything You Need To Know About BC Live Spot Prawns

Latin name, Pandalus Platyceros, live Spot Prawns are closely related to lobster and the Dungeness crab with their firm textured, delicate, and sweet flavour. Out of the seven commercial species of shrimp, BC live spot prawns, found in Canada’s west coast waters, are the largest. Unlike the spot prawns caught off American coast of Washington and California, BC live spot prawns are given the “green light” by SeaChoice. Not only healthy for our bodies, our live spot prawns are healthy and sustainable for the environment.

BC Live Spot Prawn Goodness

Similar body configuration to most crustaceans, BC live Spot Prawns have five pairs of swimming legs, five pairs of walking legs, and a front pair of claws. Their reddish brown or tan colour turns pink when cooked. They have recognizable tails with white spots and white horizontal bars on the carapace (front part of the exoskeleton).

An interesting fact about the BC live spot prawn? They are hermaphrodites. Yes! That means during the first two years of maturation, these prawns are male. After two years as a male, their change occurs to females. With a lifespan of around four years, it is a good possibility that most consumers will never eat a male spot prawn. Females can exceed a total length of 23 cm. 

Sustainability through Harvest and Market

Despite the fun fact that Spot Prawns are hermaphrodites (ultimate fun fact), these prawns also have one of the most sustainable markets. From their harvest to the cook’s delicacy, BC live Spot Prawns are celebrated as highly sustainable seafood. The Spot Prawn Festival, founded by the Chef’s Table Society of BC, educates through celebration and encourages localness of product. Although it has been cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, you are still able to purchase our live spot prawns online on our website, and have them delivered to your home!

SeaChoice “Best Choice”

SeaChoice, a science-based advocate for seafood sustainability in Canada, gave BC Spot Prawns the “Best Choice” for sustainability. SeaChoice ranks sustainability on five criteria, (1) inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure; (2) status of wild stocks; (3) nature and extent of discard bycatch; (4) effect of fishing practices on habitats and ecosystems; and (5) effectiveness of management regime. The plentiful sustainability comes by limiting the number of vessels that can commercially harvest, limiting the number of traps that can be used, returning females with eggs live to the ocean, and close monitoring of the population. 

Harvest: Season and Method

The harvest season for fresh and live spot prawns begins in June and lasts 5-6 weeks depending on the season. Like other crustaceans, BC live spot prawns are fast-growing, short-lived, and reproduce at high capacities, which lends a hand to species sustainability. Despite approximately 2,450 metric tonnes harvested annually, the method of harvesting live spot prawns dates back hundreds of years. Baited traps are placed between 40 to 150 metres deep. Spot prawn traps often vary in size but all feature 2 or 3 funnel-shaped openings. Surface buoys allow the fisherman to identify and haul in their loads. Other spot prawn and shrimp fishermen located elsewhere, often use bottom trawls for harvest. This practice is not only highly destructive to the environment but also to other species caught in those types of traps. 

Market

Around 65% of BC live spot prawn harvest comes from waters between Vancouver and the mainland. Their popularity in cuisine has led to over 90% of commercially caught live spot prawns to be consumed in Japan and Asia. With commercially caught live spot prawns being frozen-at-sea (FAS), their local market also has them available live, fresh, and fresh landed then frozen. While buying fresh live guarantees the consumer the best, frozen spot prawns are available year round. Our frozen spot prawns are harvested and flash frozen at sea to preserve freshness and quality for our customers.

Spot Prawns: Farmed versus Wild

Rising demand for quality seafood, such as the BC Spot Prawns has led to the murky waters of farmed products. While many times farmed prawns will be delivered to the market looking good and healthy, the backstory of their existence looms heavily. Many Asian prawn farms, and some elsewhere such as Mexico, use chemicals, antibiotics, and pesticides to preserve the fresh color and smell of prawns shipped globally. If frozen prawns packed full with  toxic levels of chemicals wasn't enough, many of these prawns test positive for harmful bacteria. Species of bacteria include E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus. While some fisheries in American and Canada uphold certain standards that increase sustainability, this is not the case for many imported prawns. Buying local and frozen-at-sea (FAS) wild caught BC Spot Prawns combats inferior sources as well as protects local markets and environments. 

You can be sure that here at BC Live Spot Prawns, our fresh spot prawns are harvested responsibly and sustainably!

In the Kitchen: How to Cook Live Spot Prawns

Deliciously used from their crab and lobster-like taste, BC live spot prawns can be steamed, sauteed, boiled, baked, or grilled. Overcooking is a common mistake since their cook time only requires 1 to 2 minutes and the pink just covers the prawn. When purchasing local, live spot prawns there are two things to always remember. First, live spot prawns spoil fast. If you do not cook them immediately, their heads must be removed. An enzyme that turns the spot prawn’s soft and mushy is released when they die. Removing their heads helps prevent this. The second thing to remember when buying live and local is to always put them into a cooler or on ice. Placing them in tap water will kill them from the chlorine in the water.

Spot Prawn Nutritional Information

Healthnut, foodie, backyard BBQ champ, or just want to impress a date? There is no doubt you know the keywords when it comes to healthy foods. Live spot prawns lead the charge in familiar healthy words: protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and vitamin E are all found in all spot prawns.

Per 3.5 oz/100 grams of raw edible portion:

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

Recipes: From Vancouver’s Top Chefs

Although recipes for spot prawns vary depending on location, there is no denying their delicious possibilities. The Vancouver Sun (2011) published twelve recipes, backed by well-known Vancouver chefs, that celebrate the unique and delicious BC Live Spot Prawn. Some of the featured recipes include:

  • Spot Prawn Gazpacho with Basil Sorbet
  • Sauteed Garlic Prawns
  • Spot Prawn Tortellini with English Peas and Lemon Thyme
  • BC Spot Prawn Risotto with Garden Fresh Peas, Sauteed Pea Tendrils 
  • Spot Prawn Cobb Salad
  • Sambal Drunken Prawns
  • Spot Prawn Ha Gow
  • Spot Prawns with Samphire and Miso-Yuzu Sauce

Wine Pairings: What Grows Together, Goes Together

Purchasing local BC live spot prawns not only lends to the species sustainability but also the sustainability of the local market. Anthony Gismondi offers his paleted expertise on pairing live spot prawns with local wines. Each wine offers exquisite taste that enhances BC Spot Prawn dishes. Four examples from the list are:

  • Sea Star Ortega 2016 (cross between muller-thurgau & siegerrebe: a bright/fruity)
  • Little Engine Silver Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (crisp & bright with lemon/lime and green apple finish)
  • Stag’s Hollow Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard 2016 (severe, fruity, lean style)
  • Orofino Hendsbee Vineyard Riesling 2015 (firm, dry, stony, mineral, citrus notes)

Delicious and Responsible

We, as consumers, try to be informed about the products we put into our bodies. With increasing awareness toward global health and local sustainability, many consumers of seafood are looking to environmentally responsibly harvested products. BC live spot prawns continue to prove the possibility of responsible sustainability and the importance of buying local. Knowing and understanding where your food comes from enhances the enjoyment and magic that can happen in your kitchen. Embrace and taste the local difference of BC live spot prawns!