by Gail Johnson on June 8th, 2020

Now that spot prawn season is here – hooray! – you might be looking for ideas on how to cook the delectable seafood or what local businesses are up to with it this year.

We’ve got you covered.

First, a look at the collective efforts of the Chefs’ Table Society (the group that hosts the annual Spot Prawn Festival, which had to be cancelled this year because of COVID-19), Organic Ocean Seafood, and LunchLAB: Chefs for Families. The three organizations are marking the 2020 spot prawn season in an altogether new way by helping families in need.

LunchLAB prepares more than 5,000 meals weekly, providing more than 260 families in need with three nutritious and delicious meals every day. The program is a collaboration of Fresh Roots and Growing Chefs! and operates in partnership with Ono Vancouver, the Italian Cultural Centre, and Pacific Restaurant Supply.

This past weekend, Organic Ocean donated 100 pounds of its first-catch spot prawns to the LunchLAB: Chefs for Families program. Several chefs and CTS members (including Will Lew, Dennis Peckham, Nicole Gomes, and Mariana Gabilondo) gathered with LunchLAB’s own culinary talents to make the society’s signature Spot Prawn Festival Chowder for more than 120 families.

Individuals can get into the spot prawn spirit by ordering a meal for a family that could use some help right now via

Meanwhile, Brian Hamatake, second-generation operator of Seafood City Granville Island (one of the market’s original vendors), will be selling spot prawns live, dead, or tail only.

Hamatake‘s favourite way to cook spot prawns is to “pick his poison” first—as in, what he’s going to have to drink to accompany them. That choice sets the tone.

“Tequila would be garlic, chilies, lime juice, salt and pepper, and tequila flambe to finish,” Hamatake says. “Sake would be drunken prawns in a sake simmer. Peel and eat with a side dip of soy, ginger, and wasabi.

“Pernod would be a simple flambe with butter and a hint of orange zest,” he adds.

L’Abattoir will be changing its spot-prawn features regularly.

Here’s what diners at the revered independent Gastown restaurant enjoyed this past weekend: first-of-the-season spot prawns served raw with crunchy turnips and radishes, chili, and lime.

“The prawns arrive alive and we take the heads and shells off,” says Alexis Cooper. “The prawns get a quick cure in salt and sugar before being rinsed and are then ready to eat. We toast the heads and shells to make an infused oil with chilies and garlic. This oil is combined with chopped fermented peppers and lime juice to make a dressing. The dish is then completed with raw baby turnips and radishes and some of their greens from Zaklan [Heritage] Farm. We spoon the spicy prawn and chilli dressing over the shellfish just before serving.”

The Fish Counter on Main Street gets its fresh trap-caught B.C. spot prawns via veteran fisherman Gregg Best from Cowichan Bay.

Over at Fresh Ideas Start Here (FISH), prawns are being sold whole and alive or tails

removed. You’ll also find spot prawn ceviche, cooked spot prawn tails, and prawn stock. The in-store poke bar will have cooked spot prawns as an option.

This coming weekend, spot prawns will be on special at Terroir Kitchen in West Vancouver. Chef-owner Faizal Kassam will serve them butterflied with chili, crushed fennel seeds, garlic oil, Italian parsley, and fresh lemon.

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