June 07, 2010

In Season: Grilled Spot Prawns with Spring Asparagus

There's that funny phenomenon in life when you happen to notice the same thing over and over again. Like when you buy a new car and suddenly it seems EVERYONE is driving the same model. That’s what happened to me with spot prawns. Had them for the first time just two weeks ago at Malena in a gorgeous spot prawn risotto with a crustacean brodetto, artichoke and cumin. And then there they were at Fisherfolk at the farmers' market last Saturday.  With no plans for dinner, we bought a pound, firmly frozen in sea water and picked up a bunch of fresh asparagus from Anne at the Wooler Dale Organic Farm stand. It was the perfect way to eat our first outdoor meal of the season.

I had never heard of spot prawns before, and it's good to know that they're deemed an acceptable seafood buy.  According to SeaChoice, which rates and ranks the sustainability of seafood:
"The spot prawn industry is currently centred on exports; over 90% of the prawns caught in our waters end up in Japan. At the same time, the imported, unsustainably harvested, and arguably less-tasty prawns from Asia are readily available on the Canadian market. It seems counterintuitive to think of flying all those little prawns around the world, when given sufficient local demand, consumers could affect these trends and make this product more readily available here in Canada."
The best part about these spot prawns is the simplicity of preparation.  A simple grill with the shells on, a squeeze of lemon, and the already salty prawns are ready for a happily messy meal.  You can also marinate them in an Asian style marinade. If you are lucky enough to get sashimi grade, try them raw. 

Grilled Spot Prawns
serves two

1 lb. sashami grade spot prawns
olive oil
2 lemon halves

1.  If frozen, thaw prawns and rinse well.  Dry on a tea towel.  If using a marinade, put the prawns in a bowl and marinate for 30 minutes.

2.  Heat a grill (either gas or charcoal) until hot.  Grill the prawns for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until just done (shells will be slightly charred)

The "spots" that give these prawns their name

3.  Serve immediately, squeezing lemon juice to taste before eating.

Simple Grilled Asparagus
serves two

Asparagus can be prepared in many ways, and combines beautifully with any number of ingredients.  Best of all though, is fresh just-picked spring asparagus, lightly grilled, and topped with a shaving of local cheese.

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
Olive oil
Salt to taste or grated cheese (such as Parmigiano Reggiano)

1.  Light a charcoal or gas grill on high.  Arrange asparagus crosswise on grill.  Cook, turning frequently, until lightly charred.

2.  Remove from heat, toss lightly with olive oil and salt, and top with grated cheese if desired.  We used a lovely sheep's milk from Monforte Dairy.

A little bit of quinoa rounds out the meal

Be sure to have plenty of wet napkins on hand for sticky fingers!

The garden lights come on, ushering in twilight and the end of a perfectly delicious dinner