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How to cook spot prawns

a plate of food

Spot prawn season is short in BC, only 4-6 short weeks starting in May so you better make the best of your precious catch.  Here are 3 great cooking methods that preserve the sweet, delicate meat of the prawn, the key is to not overcook them.  I would suggest trying one prawn by itself so that you get to know that lovely flavour, after you can add a dipping sauce if you want to jazz them up.  My recipe for either an orange, garlic pepper dipping sauce or a simple garlic oil is listed at the bottom of this post.  Learn how to catch your own seafood off the coasts of BC without a boat on our sea foraging trips every summer from Vancouver, BC.

The Cooking Methods

  • Sashimi – Peel and eat – Nothing is easier (Note that eating raw seafood does have risks, oysters for example)
  • Pseudo sous-vide – Remove heads, salt, pour boiling water over, wait 30 seconds, remove and eat
  • BBQ or grill – Grill with head on or removed on medium high heat 2 minutes a side

How to de-vein your prawns:

You don’t need to de-vein your prawns, but if you don’t like the look of that line of dark digestive tract along the shrimps back, here’s how to do it.  Peel the upper portion of the shell off, then, take a paring knife and cut a shallow grove in the back where the vein is, remove the vein with the point of the knife or your fingers.

Prawn Heads

You can grill your prawns with head or without.  If you want to reserve the prawn heads for stock, just twist the heads off the live prawns, put the heads in a pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer for 45 minutes, then strain and reserve the stock. Many people love to grill the whole prawn, remove the head after cooking by twisting and suck the juices out.

Tails and Shells

I like to grill my prawns with the head and part of the shell removed.  The tail should add a nice crunch if you grill it on high heat.  If you do remove the shells prior to cooking, you can reserve them for making stock.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 springs cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic diced fine
  • 2 tbs orange juice
  • 2 tbs vinegar
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • pinch ground green peppercorn or black pepper
  • 1 tbs orange zest

Place water and sugar in a saucepan and heat to dissolve, 10 minutes on boil.  Cool completely and add to food processor, blend till smooth.  Drizzle over cooked prawns.

Simple Garlic Oil for dipping

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 5 large cloves garlic, diced fine and uniformly
  • cracked salt


Heat the peanut oil till it shimmers on medium high heat, add the diced garlic and cook until it looks evenly brown but not too dark.  The darker the garlic the more bitter it will taste.  It’s important to have the garlic uniformly diced so that it all cooks at the same rate.  Transfer oil to a pouring vessel.  Drizzle over warm prawns (either the sous-vide version or grilled) and add cracked salt.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, how do you like to cook your spot prawns?