Local Chefs Share Mouth-watering Spot Prawn Recipes

We asked the chefs from Blue Water Cafe, Chambar, Minami + more how they like to prepare this delicate local treat

Credit: Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm

Gnocchi, Spot Prawns, Arugula and Tomato Butter Sauce by Chef Margaret Chisholm

The month of May means Wild BC Spot Prawn season has arrived on the West Coast. This pasta appetizer was created to complement this sweet indigenous crustacean. Gnocchi, spot prawns and arugula in a delicate tomato butter sauce makes for a refined spring appetizer or light weekend brunch dish. Gnocchi is super easy to make but you can also substitute other tender pastas like linguini or pappardelle.



  • 1½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp coarse salt



  • Peel potatoes, cut into 4 and place in cold water with coarse salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until just tender. Drain. Dry for a few minutes over low heat. Work potatoes through a potato ricer onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Sprinkle most of the flour and sea salt over the potatoes and mix together with a metal scraper. Gently knead the dough for 30 seconds or until it just comes together, adding a little flour if it begins to stick.
  • Flatten dough to a 1” thickness. Cut it into 1” strips. Roll each strip into a rope and cut it into 1” pieces. Place on a well-floured baking sheet.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat and add coarse salt. Add the gnocchi and stir gently. Boil the gnocchi until they rise to the top of the pot. Count to 10, then remove the gnocchi with a large slotted spoon and place in a large bowl of cold water. When cool, remove to a colander to drain.
  • In small batches, pan-fry gnocchi over medium heat in butter until light golden brown and heated through.

Chef tip: You can chill sautéed gnocchi in the fridge. At serving time, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and put into a 350?F oven for approximately 5 to 7 minutes or until heated through.

Tomato Butter Sauce


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp shallots, finely minced
  • 1¾ lbs vine-ripened cherry or Campari tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1½ lbs spot prawn tails, peeled
  • 4 oz baby arugula



  1. Sauté (on medium heat) shallots, tomatoes and smoked paprika in olive oil for 15 minutes.Then purée the mixture in a blender with sugar and vinegar until very smooth.
  2. Poach spot prawns in a medium pot of lightly salted water on medium heat. Immerse prawns and simmer very gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
  3. Pour puréed sauce back into a saucepan and over medium heat whisk in butter just before serving.
  4. To assemble: add arugula to the tomato butter sauce then immediately remove sauce from heat. On a plate combine gnocchi, tomato butter sauce and poached spot prawns.
  5. Garnish with fresh herbs or micro greens.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Chef tip: When buying spot prawns, ensure they feel firm, have a few or no black spots and smell of the sea with no hint of ammonia. The best time to buy fresh spot prawns is the day you cook them, but if they are very fresh you could store them for one or two days in the refrigerator. My favourite way to eat spot prawns is to simply sauté the prawns in their shells with a little butter and top with a pinch of salt and a fresh squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Waterzooi Tunisien Aux Fruits De Mer by Chef Nico Schuermans, Chambar

Waterzooi is a Belgian stew named for the Dutch term “zooien” meaning “to boil.” B.C. spot prawns give this simple dish a slightly sweeter flavour that marries well with the coconut milk, Tunisian spices and citrus in the broth.


  • 100 g (4 oz) cooked whole tomato, peeled
  • 4 fresh tomatoes
  • 4 oranges peeled and diced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Pinch saffron
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 4 basil leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil


  1.  Sweat garlic in olive oil.
  2.  Add oranges, spices, tomato, and remaining stock ingredients.
  3.  Bring to boil and remove from heat.
  4.  Let sit for two hours at room temperature to infuse saffron and vanilla.

Seafood (per person)

  • 2 scallops
  • 2 spot prawns (cleaned and de-veined, tails on)
  • 2 oz halibut
  • 3 mussels


  1. Season seafood with salt.
  2.  In a large frying pan on med-to-high heat, sear halibut and scallops in olive oil until golden brown. Add mussels and cleaned spot prawns and cook until mussels open.

To Serve

  1.  Place seafood in individual bowls
  2.  Pour broth over seafood and serve.

Serves 4

Recommended to serve with black Thai rice

Spot Prawns with Samphire and Miso-Yuzu Sauce by Frank Pabst, Executive Chef, Blue Water Cafe

This recipe calls for shiro miso, a light-coloured miso paste made with rice, available at Asian supermarkets.

It also calls for samphire, also known as sea asparagus or Salicornia, which you can buy at specialty food stores. Look for vibrant green stalks without brown spots or limpness. If you cannot find sea asparagus, substitute pencil-thin spears of green asparagus.

Spot Prawns and samphire

  • 16 fresh jumbo spot prawns
  • 7 oz samphire
  • 2 cups canola oil,for deep-frying
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch


  1. Remove the prawn tails from the heads and peel off the shell, leaving the tail segment attached to the meat. Set aside the heads.
  2. Arrange the prawn tails in a single layer, backs up, on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. With a sharp paring knife, make an incision lengthwise along the back of each prawn, then open it and use the tip of your knife to remove and discard any entrails.
  4. Remove and discard the shell from the prawn heads, reserving the innards of the heads in a small bowl.
  5. Thoroughly wash the prawn bodies in cold water to remove any sand. Set aside to dry on a kitchen towel.
  6. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat.
  8. Wash samphire and, with a sharp knife, remove and discard the tough end of each sprig.
  9. Place samphire in the boiling water and cook for 15 seconds. Refresh immediately in the ice bath to keep its vibrant green colour.

Miso-Yuzu Sauce

  • 3 tbsp shiro miso (white miso paste)
  • 1/4 cup beurre blanc
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice


  1. To make the sauce, heat sake in a small pot on medium heat.
  2. Add the innards of the prawn heads and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in shiro miso, then transfer to a small food processor and purée.
  4. Strain this mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a pot, then add beurre blanc and yuzu juice. Season to taste.

to cook the prawns

  1. Heat canola oil in a deep sauté pan on high heat until it reaches 350° F (use a thermometer to test the temperature).
  2. In a small bowl, toss prawn bodies in cornstarch, shaking off any excess.
  3. Fry prawns for 30 seconds until they crisp and start to become golden.
  4. Using tongs, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

To finISH

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice seasoning) or cayenne pepper


  1. To serve, gently heat the sauce on medium-low heat.
  2. Add samphire and heat until warmed through, then divide the sauce among four warmed appetizer plates.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  4. Place prawn tails on a baking sheet, season with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for two to three minutes, until just about cooked.
  5. Arrange four prawn tails on top of each serving of samphire.
  6. Spoon sauce over the tails and arrange crispy prawn bodies randomly on the plate.
  7. Garnish with a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi (or cayenne).

Serves 4

This goes well with a lighter white wine with dried-fruit aroma, such as a British Columbia Pinot Auxerrois.

Olive Oil Poached Spot Prawns with Gazpacho by Executive Chef Wayne Sych, Joe Fortes


  • 1/2 lb ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • cayenne to taste


  1. Place the tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber, red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, sugar and cayenne in a food processor or blender and pulse until vegetables are smooth.
  2. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in the chopped red onion and cilantro.
  3. Let chill 2-3 hours.


  • 1 lb spot prawns, peeled and cleaned
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 strips lemon peel
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place the prawns on paper towel and pat dry, sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place the olive oil, fresh thyme, basil leaves and lemon peel in a pot big enough for the prawns.
  3. On medium low heat, bring the oil to 180° F using a deep-fryer thermometer. Be sure the temperature does not go over 200° F.
  4. Add the prawns stir and turn off heat.
  5. Let prawns poach 3-5 minutes or until cooked medium rare to medium.
  6. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain slightly on absorbent towels.
  7. Spoon gazpacho into chilled bowls, place the poached prawns in the center of the gazpacho, and serve immediately.

Serves 6 (appetizer portions)

Spot Prawn Tortelloni with English Peas and Lemon Thyme by Chef James Walt, Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Filled pastas like these tortelloni – which means “little twist” in Italian – are very easy to make, especially with a little practice. In this dish, the subtle flavours of the prawns in the filling and the peas in the sauce go together very well. Remember to taste some of the peas before you buy or pick them to be sure they are perfect.

Spot Prawn Tortelloni

  • 1 lb spot prawns, peeled and shells reserved for sauce, well-chilled
  • 4 oz wild salmon, skin and bones removed, well-chilled
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 recipe fresh pasta dough
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Chill the bowl of a food processor and a stainless steel bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Place the spot prawns and salmon in the food processor bowl and pulse until the seafood is chopped and well-combined.
  3. Add the salt, nutmeg, lemon juice and lemon zest and pulse again to combine.
  4. Add the egg and process at high speed until well mixed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the chilled stainless steel bowl and fold in the brandy, followed by the cream and the dill.
  6. Refrigerate the prawn filling while you roll out the pasta.
  7. Lightly moisten a tea towel with cold water.
  8. Following the instructions on your pasta machine, roll the dough into a sheet the thickness of a dime.
  9. Using a round cutter or a glass, cut the dough into 24 portions of 3-1/2- to 4-inch (9- to 10-cm) rounds.
  10. Assemble the rounds in a stack and cover them with the damp cloth.
  11. Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour and fill a small bowl with water.
  12. Fill a large roasting pan with ice. Place the bowl of prawn filling on the ice while you work with the dough.
  13. Place one pasta round on a clean work surface. Spoon 2 tsp/10 mL of the filling onto the centre of the pasta, then, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the round with water.
  14. Fold the top half of the pasta round over the bottom half to form a semi-circle, being careful to completely enclose the filling.
  15. To shape the tortelloni, lay a pasta semi-circle – flat edge toward you – across the middle of your index finger. There should be an even amount of pasta on both sides of your finger.
  16. Dab a small amount of water on one corner of the semi-circle, then fold the pasta around your finger, bringing the two tips together.
  17. With the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, press the tips together tightly to seal the tortelloni, then carefully slide it off your finger.
  18. Place this tortelloni on the baking sheet, and continue filling and shaping the remaining tortelloni until you have used up all the pasta and the filling.
  19. Reserve the pasta while you prepare the sauce. It will keep refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for one day.

Lemon Thyme Sauce and Peas

  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp vermouth
  • reserved prawn shells
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 3 springs thyme
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup shucked fresh peas, 4 whole pods reserved
  • 1/4 grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Place the shallots and butter in a small saucepan on low heat and sauté until softened but not coloured, about 5 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to medium, add the vermouth and reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the prawn shells and cook for 5 minutes, or until the shells redden from the heat.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the fish stock and 1 sprig of lemon thyme and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour in the cream, remove from the heat and cover the pot with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow the sauce to infuse for 30 minutes.
  6. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan and discard the solids.
  7. Bring the sauce to a simmer on medium heat and add the shucked peas. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

to cook the Prawn Tortelloni

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat.
  2. Add about 1 tsp/5 mL of salt per 4 cups/ 1 L of water.
  3. Add the tortelloni and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. To check for doneness, cut a tortelloni in half and look to see if the edges of the dough are cooked.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tortelloni to a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.


  1. Place 5 or 6 tortelloni in each bowl and cover with sauce.
  2. Split open the whole pea pods to expose the peas and arrange a pod on each serving.
  3. Sprinkle each serving with Pecorino Romano cheese and lemon thyme leaves. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

There are lots of fun pairing possibilities with this dish, from Italian whites, like top-quality Soave or Falanghina, to Alsace or B.C. Riesling and Pinot Blanc.

Grilled Spot Prawns with Crispy Garlic and Yuzu Kosho Perisillade by Executive Chef Shin Suzuki, Pidgin Restaurant


  • 3 spot prawns 
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 200 g olive oil


  1. Pierce spot prawns with skewers so they keep a straight-line form.
  2. Fry garlic in oil at 160° C in a pot.
  3. Once garlic is golden and crispy, strain immediately and dry garlic chips on paper towel. Season with salt.
  4. Set aside 50 g of leftover garlic oil in a bowl to use for basting, and leave the remaining amount to cool.

Garlic and Yuzu Kosho Perisillade

  • 12 g dill
  • 8 g Italian flat parsley
  • 8 g coriander leaf
  • 8 g chives 
  • 2 jalapeños, with seeds
  • 6 g sea salt, coarse
  • 15 g yuzu kosho paste 
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • 30 ml sherry vinegar


  1. To make persillade, mince herbs and jalapeños, and mix with salt, yuzu kosho paste, add leftover cooled garlic oil.
  2. Season with sherry vinegar, lemon juice and more salt to taste.

Finish Prawns

  1. Grill spot prawns over a medium flame on a barbecue, and continually baste with the 50 g of garlic oil.
  2. Remove the skewers gently without breaking the body.

To Serve

Serve with persillade and crispy garlic, and enjoy!

Salt Baked Spot Prawns with Charred Tomatillos Sauce by Chef Tret Jordan, Homer St. Cafe and Bar

Tomatillos Sauce

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lbs tomatillos, husked and cut in half
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed, halved and seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut the tomatillos in half and place on a bake sheet lined with aluminum foil. Set under hot broiler and char.
  2. Carefully flip and continue to char the other side. Once nicely charred, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place all ingredients in food processor and blend to a smooth puree; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Set in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salt Baked Spot Prawns

  • 1 lb fresh spot prawns, head on
  • 1 lb coarse sea salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorn
  • 2 red Thai chilies
  • 4 fresh bay leaves


  1. Pre-heat oven to high, 450° F
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine coarse salt, herbs and spices.
  3. Pack a thin layer of the salt mix over the bottom of a fry pan or bake pan.
  4. Set the prawns across the salt, and pour the rest of the salt mix over the prawns and pack to ensure a nice crust will form. Add extra salt if there are any bare spots.
  5. Using your fingers, flick water liberally over the salt, as this will help the salt crust form on top.
  6. Place in the oven and set the timer for 8-10 minutes.

To Serve

  1. Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and set on a hot mat to serve.
  2. Serve with tomatillos sauce and fresh lemon. Bon appetit!

Serves 2-4

Minami Spot Prawns Two Ways by Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi

This appetizer dish celebrates B.C. spot prawn season by using the whole prawn.



  • 3 whole B.C. spot prawns 
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 1 cup Japanese vinegar
  • 1 watermelon radish, sliced
  • 1 handfull of micro greens
  • 1 sliced avocado



Pickle the watermelon radishes at least a night in advance using a cup of Japanese vinegar. Make sure it is covered well and placed in the refrigerator. 

Strawberry Compote


  • 1 chopped strawberry
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup chopped cucumber
  • 2 tsp sushi vinegar



  1. Start making the strawberry compote. Combine the chopped strawberry, shallot, and cucumber in a bowl with two teaspoons of sushi vinegar. Mix well.

Finish Prawns


  1. Separate the spot prawn heads from the body, but leave the tail with the tail meat. Save the heads for deep-frying.
  2. In a small pot, heat the canola oil to about 380° degrees.
  3. Coat the three prawn heads in flour. Then, deep fry the spot prawn heads for about five minutes until crispy. 

To Serve


  1. Place the sliced avocado on a plate, arrange in three groups.
  2. Then, place the spot prawn tail meat on top, followed by a small spoonful of