Buying prawns can be very confusing as many sizes and varieties are available. Firstly one has to get their head around the difference between warm and coldwater prawns with the warm ones then being split into saltwater and freshwater. Then of course there are cooked, raw, peeled, whole, headless block……….
North Atlantic Pink Shrimps
These are the favourite of the ‘pint of prawns’ or the classic prawn cocktail. Caught mainly in the high
On the other hand the peeled varieties are pretty dam tasteless hence best being covered in a Marie Rose sauce and served with iceberg lettuce. Always buy the shell on variety.
North Atlantic Brown Shrimps
The majority of the
Occasionally you will be lucky enough to stumble across raw fresh hand net caught shrimps from areas around
These are the cream of the crop when it comes to prawns. Caught in the high cold waters of the
Warm Saltwater Prawns – Raw
The most commonly seen prawn on a fishmongers slab is the raw black or white tiger prawn. The black are usually larger and generally wild. Many will know them as Madagascan prawns, a term used by a lot of outlets, but this is a bit misleading. The majority do, however, come from African waters further North. There are a few wild white tiger prawns available, also African, but more often than not you will find farmed products; usually from Brazil, Ecuador or other south American countries and some Asian countries. There are some certified organic prawns from
Both types of prawn are very good options for head turning starters, impressive main courses, tempura or on barbeque. They are an expensive item to have peeled as an addition to a curry as other cheaper options are available. The very large black tigers, known in the trade as U10s (a size grade) make an excellent alternative to lobster meat in pasta or risotto dishes.
Warm Saltwater Prawns – Frozen
The quality of these products varies immensely and are tarnished with much bad press regarding farming methods and local habitat destruction (mangrove) issues. Salination and chemical pollution of drinking water and agricultural land also frequently result from prawn farming. An interesting, but a little out of date article on farming prawns in Vietnam et al. can be read here Is it OK to eat tiger prawns? It is well worth a browse but as with all ‘fish stock’ related newspaper articles try to filter the scaremongering ‘shock’ factor.
These prawns offer good value. The peeled and de-veined variety is a must for curries and bbq skewers when a heavy marinade of chilli and garlic is used. They offer little in taste and sometimes can be a little earthy. The texture is ideal for the aforementioned cooking methods but maybe avoid in few strong flavours are used in the dish. The other main variety of frozen prawns is smaller black tigers frozen whole in blocks of about a kilo. Not really sure what these really offer apart from being cheap. Have tried a few times and can come across a little powdery in texture
Warm Freshwater Prawns – Frozen
These are one of the most commonly used type of prawns in a restaurant. Bought in frozen water blocks, usually headless, and generally defrosted under running water. Personally i have not sold or eaten these so have little opinion on the product.