California Spot Prawn

(summer-fall)

Also called Alaskan prawn, is a shrimp of the genus Pandalus. Spot shrimp are a large shrimp found in the North Pacific.

The Meat:

Obviously the remarkable thing about spots is the size. In fact I'm thinking of trying out a new market name: pygmy lobster. But the flavor and texture are ridiculously awesome too.  Best to think of these as a treat that comes around a couple of times per year. Boil, steam, grill, fry etc. Please note that like all shellfish they are highly perishable, so eat them as soon as you can to enjoy them at their best.

Prep:

 If you want to waste your time deveining and deshelling these puppies, go crazy.  Otherwise just cook 'em whole.

Health concerns:

None that I've heard of.

Gear and fishery info:

Spot prawns are considered the prize jewel of California's fisheries (shrimperies?).  The market price alone is daunting, so it's usually only a few very high end diners who get to eat them.  Luckily I have high friends in low places--like fisherman's wharf.  Otherwise I would not be able to get these to you! These spots are caught by trap.  The trap selects for spot prawns only and does not have theproblems with bycatch associated with shrimp fisheries on a global level. (See coostriped shrimp section for more details on shrimp fisheries and the problems inherent in them).  

 

Again there is really only one boat that can get us these spot prawns in anything approximating local waters. So when I am able to get these shrimp it really is nothing short of a miracle.

Facts:
  • Scientific Name:  Pandalus platyceros

 

  • Habitat:  Rocky offshore reefs, from 150-1,600 feet.

 

  • Diet:  other shrimp, worms, sponges, small molluscs, fish carcasses, plankton

 

  • Size:  to 10.5 inches (27 cm)

 

  • Range:  Alaska to Baja California; Sea of Japan to the Korean Strait

 

  • Relatives:  shrimp, crabs, lobsters; Class: Crustacea

2010 - present

2010 - present

Fish Nerdism 101:

Here comes my favorite term again: protandrous hermaphroditism (see coostriped shrimp for more on this).  Spot prawns start out life as males and then become female by their third year. They normally mate once as males and twice as females.  Spots are longer lived than coonstripeds, attaining an age of up to 6 years.  Spots in warm water grow a lot faster than spots in colder northerly areas.

Parting Shots

Spot prawns were first discovered by octopus fishermen in Monterey who occasionally caught them as bycatch.  Now the opposite is true: shrimp fishermen catch octopus as bycatch.  What a difference a century makes!