Monday, May 26, 2014

A focus on what's in season: spot prawns

On Saturday we headed down to our nearby town of Cowichan Bay to enjoy their annual Spot Prawn Festival. This post is quite picture heavy which I hope you enjoy and there is an absolutely fabulous prawn recipe at the end as part of our new Cooking with Chris feature. Yes, he's my husband and I'm lucky to have him cooking for me here at home but now I'm sharing the love. ;)

We decided to take advantage of the shuttle service they were offering as Cowichan Bay is quite small and parking is always at a premium. The shuttle service was the lowlight of the day unfortunately as it wasn't well organized. The shuttle was very small and took 25+ minutes between pickups when the destination was only two minutes away. That obviously left many people quite frustrated, especially when there are only a minimum number of prawns available to purchase each day. Getting there early is key!

When we finally made it we decided to start with lunch as everyone was hungry and excited about prawns!

We all decided to go with the Spot Prawn Bowl

Fresh spot prawns sautéed in garlic, lime and tequila and served over spanish rice, mexican corn and black bean salad with a chipotle mayo on top. This was served in a tortilla bowl. The prawns were very messy to get into with the mayo on top but the flavour was pretty good. The corn and black bean salad and chipotle mayo (and tortilla bowl!) were my favourite parts.

 Once everyone had eaten and cleaned up it was time to wander through the booths and enjoy the festivities.

Beaver House Fudge is so delicious, I got some creme brûlée flavour and no, it didn't last long.

True Grain Bread is absolutely delicious, they mill all their own grains and it's where we bought our baguettes to go with our prawn dinner.

Doesn't this spread look tasty? Those brioche butterflies on the far end there....outstanding.

Boat building workshop and raffle.

Cowichan Pasta Company, where all pasta ingredients are 100% local.

Cooking demos went on all day.

The marimba band was really fun, all the little kiddies loved it and there were so many of them dancing, adorable!

Morning Mist Ice Cream made a special pomegranate ice cream just for the festival.

 It was good!

And of course you can't forget face painting.

Cowichan Bay was the first town in North America to be certified Cittaslow.

You can click on the link above to learn more about this certification but a quick synopsis taken from Wikipedia says:
There are 50 goals and principles that each Cittaslow town commits to work to achieve. Although there will always be place for improvement these goals serve as tangible benchmarks to improve the quality of life in the city.
The main aims of the movement are:
  • making life better for everyone living in an urban environment
  • improving the quality of life in the cities
  • resisting the homogenization and globalization of towns around the globe
  • protecting the environment
  • promoting cultural diversity and uniqueness of individual cities
  • provide inspiration for a healthier lifestyle
"Cittaslow is about more than a set of 50 goals and principles. It is a way of thinking. It is about caring for your town and the people who live and work in it or visit it. It is about celebrating and promoting diversity and avoiding the ‘sameness’ that afflicts too many towns in the modern world. It is about finding a place in a changing world where values are often uncertain and the needs and aspirations of local communities can often be overlooked."
Pretty cool!

Once we got home it was time to feast on prawns and that's where Chris comes in.

While he has always been an adventurous eater and will try anything once this was his first experience sucking out a prawn head and as with trying anything new food wise it's best to just jump right in.

His thoughts? A salty, briny flavour....all that comes out is juice, no icky bits, and a great precursor to a fresh prawn meal.

Now for the recipe:

Fresh Spot Prawns With A Simple White Wine Butter Sauce


1 medium shallot (approx 3 Tblsp) chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
4 Tblsp butter divided
1 cup of white wine
2lbs of fresh spot prawns 
3 Tblsp of chopped parsley and chopped green onions

Prepare all ingredients before you start cooking as it comes together very quickly.

To prepare the prawns, remove heads by pinching and twisting and then take scissors and cut the shell down the back almost to the tail end, for ease of removing from the shell after cooking. A quick rinse in cold water and they are ready to go.

Heat up your frying pan over a medium high heat and add your first two tablespoons of butter.

Once melted add shallots, garlic and ginger and cook until just soft and fragrant.

Add prawns..

Add wine...

and lemon juice..

Cover briefly for a quick steam..

Add two tablespoons of butter...

Toss and finish with some chopped parsley, green onion and a fresh squeeze of lemon.

Serve immediately. The whole process from start to finish should only take about 7-10 minutes. Prawns cook very quickly and are ready as soon as they lose their translucent colour and turn white.

 It tastes particularly good with a fresh baguette for dipping in the sauce.

You'll have some very happy guests.

We really enjoyed our festival day and eating fresh spot prawns is a real treat as the season is only open for a maximum of four weeks (often not even that long), after that the only way you can enjoy them is frozen.

 Have you had spot prawns before? What's your favourite way to enjoy them?

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