Prawns have been a constant seafood favourite of many. They’re available all year round and for that, we can eat them during summer, winter, Easter or even Christmas – for that matter we can grab any opportunity that presents itself to consume them. Prawns are fantastic for our body; they are high in protein, iron, zinc and Vitamin E. In addition, prawns also contain omega-3 fatty acids that is considered as a source of healthy fats and good for the heart. They are easy to prepare and cook; on top of that they can be successfully incorporated into other dishes.
Australia has always been rich in marine resources. There are 4 main species of prawns available. They are as follows:
- Banana Prawns
Banana prawns has a sweet and mild flavour. They are commonly used in warm dishes and also ideal for light and delicate flavoured dishes. They are more cost effective as compared to that of tiger prawns. They retain their shape when cooked and are perfect for presentation. They are at their prime during mid-autumn.
Banana prawns are big prawns. They have a translucent white / yellow body with tiny reddish-brown markings on their shells. You can mince banana prawns to make prawn cakes or terrines.
They are mostly found in muddy and sandy bottoms in coastal water and their life span is up to 1.5 years. They reach their reproductive maturity at 6 months of age.
There are 2 varieties of banana prawns – regular banana prawns and white banana prawns.
- King Prawns
King prawns are Australia’s most famed prawn, they can be found all the way around our country’s coastline. King doesn’t necessarily refer to its size but its species. Its size can be small, medium or large. King prawns has an intense flavour, are moist and have a medium-firm flesh. The tail ends are bright blue when raw. It is best to eat king prawns during late summer to early winter, but they’re always available all year round.
Leave king prawns whole in dishes, to make them more appealing and appetizing. Serve the whole king prawns with a dipping sauce or mix them in a seafood salad.
- Tiger Prawns
Tiger prawns are often the choice of top restaurants and hotels. They are of a good size and flavoursome. Tiger prawns have a moist, firm flesh and a medium flavour.
They are available all year round but they are at their best during late summer to mid-autumn. You can serve the whole tiger prawns with mayonnaise or a simple dressing to showcase its colour. You can grill them or make it into garlic prawns. Tiger prawns can be added to soups as well; their firm flesh holds together very well.
Tiger prawns have 2 species – brown tiger and grove tiger and they are very closely related. They usually inhabit coastal waters to depths of 200 metres. Their lifespan usually lasts up to 2 years and they reach their reproductive maturity at about 6 months of maturity.
- Endeavour Prawns
Endeavour prawns have a distinctive sweet flavour that stands out on its own merit. In Adelaide during 2007 the endeavour prawn won an award as the best prawn voted by fishermen. They have a pale brown / pinkish body with either a bright blue or bright red flicker on the edge on the tail fin and their legs are pink to red.
Endeavour prawns are mainly used for finger food style dishes with dipping sauce such as citrus, chilli or soy sauce. They are also popular in salads and seafood platters. Their distinctive natural sweetness isn’t easily overpowered by other bolder spices.
There are 2 species of endeavour prawns – blue endeavour prawns and red endeavour prawns. The blue endeavour prawns can be found on sandy or muddy sand to a depth of 60 metres. The red endeavour prawns are usually found in muddy substrates and in depth of 95 metres. They reach their reproductive maturity at 6 months of age.
The Best Way to Store Prawns
Prawns are sold cooked or raw and frozen as well as fresh. For fresh prawns (cooked or raw) they can be refrigerated for up to 2 to 3 days at the temperature of 0 to 4 degrees Celsius. The best place to store your prawns is at the coldest part of the fridge. Wrap them tightly and avoid any contact with other foods in the refrigerator.
For fresh prawns that haven’t been frozen, you can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius or lower.
How Prawns Are Sized
Prawns come in all sizes and they are graded on how many there are per pound. Prawn sizes are approximate and can vary up to 10 prawns.
Common Prawn Grades:
- U/6 = 12 prawns per kg (huge)
- U/8 = 16 prawns per kg (huge)
- U/10 = 20 prawns per kg (x-large)
- U/15 = 30 prawns per kg (x-large)
- 9/12 = 20 prawns per kg (x-large)
- 10/20 = 30 prawns per kg (large)
- 21/30 = 50 prawns per kg (medium)
- 30+ = 70 prawns per kg (small)
- S&B = Soft and Broken and come ungraded for size.
Note: U – means under
How to Peel Prawns
Peeling prawns can sometimes be challenging but knowing the right technique will make it quick and easy. It is simpler to peel a cooked prawn as compared to uncooked. Here are the steps on how to peel prawns:
Step 1 – Remove the head. Grab the prawn body just below the head and twist it to remove its head.
Step 2 – Remove the main shell. Use your thumb grip and firmly remove the shell on the legs and around the body of the prawn.
Step 3 – Pop the tail. Squeeze the tail section of the prawn and the rest of it will just pop out.
Step 4 – Devein the prawn. Straighten the prawn out and grip the vein and pull it out slowly. If you can’t reach the vein with your fingers, use a wooden skewer tip to grasp and remove the it.
Step 5 – Rinse them under running water.
Prawns genuinely are such a versatile commodity – what is your favourite prawn dish?