Springtime means it’s spot prawn season in Vancouver!
Kicking off on the 5th of May (watch the first catch being hauled in) with the 6th Annual Spot Prawn Festival, for us prawn lovers it’s two months of glorious indulgence in one of the most delicious things to come out of our neck of the Pacific. Spot prawns (or spot shrimp, if you prefer) have a clean sweetness to them, and the succulent flesh makes for very satisfying eating with minimal cooking and seasoning, though I draw the line at eating them straight out of the water!
Besides enjoying them as sashimi, with creamy pasta sauces, in salads, grilled and dripping with garlicky butter, I can’t resist the temptation to cook them in a myriad Indian ways. And thanks to the long harvesting season, it’s possible to try out plenty of recipes featuring these luscious crustaceans at their freshest and best.
Here’s a spot prawn curry I recently made, based on a simple Coorg fish curry recipe.
Spot prawn curry
- 1/2 kg spot prawns, shells on, heads on or off (but do use them in the dish!)
Sprinkle the prawns with a little salt, turmeric and chilli powder and mix to coat them evenly
- 2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups of finely sliced shallots
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 2-3 green chillis, slit
- 6-7 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 cup of freshly grated coconut, ground to a paste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
- 2 tsp cumin, roasted dark
- 1 tsp mustard, roasted
Grind the mustard and cumin together
- Oil, preferably coconut
- 2-3 pieces of kudampuli*
1 tsp tamarind extract
Heat some oil in a pan and put the prawns in. Do not allow them to cook through, just mix them around gently till the shells just begin to change colour. Remove and place in a separate dish.
Add a little more oil to the pan and put in the crushed garlic. Fry until it begins to colour slightly, then add the onions and green chillis, followed by the curry leaves. Cook until the onions soften and just begin to brown.
Add the ground coconut and sauté until the mixture begins to look dry and the coconut begins to release its oil. Add the turmeric, coriander, and the ground roasted cumin and mustard. Cook for about a minute, then add salt and two cups of hot water. Add the tamarind paste or kudampuli. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the prawns to the broth and cook on low heat until done – not more than 2-3 minutes!
Serve with steamed rice and wedges of lime or lemon.
*For the Coorg fish curry, you would add a few drops of kachampuli before finishing, but in this instance, I prefer to use kudampuli. If you don’t have any, just serve the curry up with lemon or lime wedges.
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