Sunday, December 27, 2009


Now when it comes to sea-food I'll be the first to admit I'm quite picky. Not that I won't eat trawled frozen hake, or hold up my nose at people who like fish fingers, but if I have a choice I prefer to have caught it myself. I've worked on commercial trawlers as fisheries scientist. There are actually some aspects – the gutting and gilling soon after catch, and the rapid chilling/freezing – that they do better. But one thing no bloke with a rod and line does is to drop 30 tons of fish on top of your fish dinner. I've run fish farms (or rather they ran me -intensive fish farming is a mug's game which makes avoiding the normal 99% mortalitiy in the wild something you have to help the fishies avoid, mostly by constant watching and rapid response. Anyone who tells you it's an easy way to make a fortune and needs no skills or training is a snake-oil salesman. You're better off on a street corner with a butchers knife in one hand and a cardboard sign saying ' Cheap Brane Sergiry' in the other.)

Anyway I seem to have wandered away from what I was going to write about, which was the prawns we cooked last night. They were farmed prawns (shrimp? In the US and it would appear sometimes in Oz -when?) which was where the thread started. Like shellfish, prawns are one of the more sensible aquaculture targets, because they naturally occur in high denisties, grow fast and sell for a good price. And if the farmed ones aren't as tasty as the wild ones, they're at least affordable if not cheap. We had a few kilos of them last night with my brother. He uses a small sharp knife to butterfly 2/3 of the way up the tail. I've always used small scissors to cut down the back, de-vein and open up the shell a little. Carl has always just deep fried in a wok on high heat from there, and serve with garlic butter. I like to marianate them first. Last night I used soy sauce, pink port, crushed garlic, and a fair amount of fresh sliced ginger. The trick is to get the mix under the shell – which is why I loosen the shells a little. I also like to deep fry them – but in Spillers peri-peri oil (sunflower oil infused with chilli). We did a batch each way (all in a mix of peri-peri oil and straight sunflower).

The unanimous result was deathly silence and a lot of gorging. (Dinner-time conversation is something polite society hostesses want. Cooks... we want the sound of chewing, with interruptions for serious matters like 'pass the garlic butter'.)

My concluslion is that butterflying Carl's way is worth doing, and for appearance, his prawns looked better -perlescent pink and white, whereas mine were stained with soy sauce. But marianaded ones – with the subtle zing of ginger and a bit of saltiness from the soy to contrast the sweetness of the prawns, I thought was a winner.

Still needs more work though.


  1. All the variations sound yummy. I just like them fresh, with mum's sauce

  2. They are prawns here. The only times I've heard them called shrimp was where it was advertising for the US market.

    I don't like them at all, but copious amounts were eaten by my family for Christmas Day breakfast. There were plain and marinated - I'm pretty sure it was chilli, ginger, garlic and soy. The rest of their breakfast consisted of cherries and nuts.

  3. In the US they are shrimp, here in Oz they are prawns, unless they are the tiny ones (only a couple of centimetres long) which are often called shrimp - maybe because of their shrimpy size.

  4. What webfaery said. In W.A. anyway, where I grew up. Shrimps were the tiny white transparent ones that we used to catch for bait around the piles of the jetties down in Mandurah...