Water Grill Spot Prawns in the Spotlight

April 5, 2024

We want Guests to feel at home when they dine with us. We also strive to be ambassadors of the ocean and impart product knowledge they can bring home with them.

Seattle-based foodie publication, Foodista, helped this season. In this article, we share some preparation tips for Wild Spot Prawns and the editors help fill in the remaining at-home steps.

Find the Foodista article here and try out the recipe for yourself. Don’t feel like cooking? Check out our menus and make a reservation to your nearest Water Grill here.

Want to learn more about these awesome Southern California delicacies? Check out our own story on Wild Santa Barbara Spot Prawns!

Wild Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Season

March 1, 2024

Shrimp are found all over the world. From saltwater to freshwater, wild, farmed and frozen. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. The list goes on.

Prawns are generally found in freshwater environments.

Spot prawns; however, are not prawns. The Spot Prawn (Pandalus platyceros) is found exclusively in the Pacific Ocean, from the Gulf of Alaska down to Northern Baja California. Named after the paired spots located just behind the head, our California Spot Prawns hail from the Southern California Bight (a 430-mile stretch of curved coast from Point Conception, Calif. to Punta Colonet, Baja California Sur, Mexico), with main ports of entry at Santa Barbara, San Pedro and San Diego.

These shrimps are big, too. The largest in the Pacific, in fact. They can grow upwards of 12 inches (30.5 cm) but most are around 4 to 10 inches (12-27 cm) in length.

It’s in California where spot prawns were initially discovered in the 1930s, hanging out in octopus traps off the coast of Monterey. Today, they’re caught in pot traps to ensure careful handling and effective fisheries management (shoutout to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Spot prawns dwell deep, inhabiting depths of 600 feet to 1,500 feet on soft and rocky bottoms.

Every February, we gear up to receive these live, special treasures from local fishermen in Santa Barbara.
Spot Prawns in Water Grill Live Saltwater Tank

LIFE CYCLE

The average life span for a spot prawn is around six years. It’s around year four or five when something magical happens: spot prawns start transitioning from male to female. Spot prawns start life as males, then they join the other team after their first spawn as males. They’re a true example of a hermaphrodite in the natural world, a protrandric hermaphrodite, if you want to get the scientific term spot-on.

Spot prawns spawn once a year, with each individual spot prawn mating once as a male and once or twice as a female. This typically occurs from October through January. That’s the reason spot prawn season is closed during that time.

UNBEATABLE FLAVOR

Spot prawns are a rarity and a delicacy. Careful handling is critical, as they must be enjoyed immediately after they decease. (There’s an enzyme in them that instantly begins decomposing the muscular structure, leading to a “mushy” texture when cooked if not handled properly.)

As finding and preparing spot prawns can be a little, well, spotty, it goes without saying that the best way to enjoy them is fresh from the water. At Water Grill, we fill our saltwater tanks with live spot prawns and prepare them to order, where you can get them as a tempura-fried Nigiri or as a charcoal-grilled entrée.

Spot prawns are delicate and delicious. We may refer to them as delicate, but the firm texture makes them sweet and gives a “pop” of flavor every time you take a bite.

AT A GLANCE: