Spot prawns are a delicacy you don’t want to miss. Get ready, the BC Spot Prawn season opens May 15.
The BC spot prawn season is a much-anticipated event for seafood lovers in Vancouver. From May to June, these delicious prawns are in peak season and can be found in abundance at local seafood markets.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, be sure to try them grilled, steamed, or boiled. Once you have had fresh, there’s no substitute.
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Why are spot prawns so special?
Chefs from around the world covet these large west coast shrimp for their firm, tasty, delicate flavour.
These special prawns live in the Pacific coast waters from San Diego up through Alaska. They are also found in the waters off of Japan and Korea.
This species, is the largest of the seven varieties found on the west coast. Look for the noticeable white spots on its tail, their reddish brown colour and distinct markings on the carapace of red and white bars.
This large shrimp turns an orangey-pink colour when cooked. The are also delicious raw.
Fisherman Stewart McDonald on his Salty Stew’s boat during BC spot prawn season in Vancouver at Fisherman’s Wharf in False Creek near Granville Island.
Freshly cooked wild BC spot prawns ready to eat. Notice their unique markings. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
When is BC spot prawn season?
The short BC spot prawn season lasts for about six to eight weeks, from the middle of May to the first weeks of June.
The 2023 season opened May 15. Sales will last until mid June.
2023 Spot Prawn Festival in Vancouver
Vancouver’s popular Spot Prawn Festival is back in all its glory at False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf on Sunday, May 28 from 11 am- 3:30 pm.
The event features spot prawn dishes from some of the Vancouver’s best chefs.
Open to the public, local celebrity chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations.
It’s the perfect opportunity to sample this delicious seafood. The event itself is free, but the tasting experience requires a ticket. Find out more about the festival and book tickets here.
This annual fundraiser is put on by the Chefs’ Table Society and the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association.
This year the festival offers two ticketed tasting choices on May 28.
- Spot Prawn Bisque with a bun for $12.22 (includes tax)
- Spot Prawn Brunch serving six delicious chef prepared spot prawn dishes to try for $87.21 (includes all taxes and fees)
Tips for buying and handling fresh spot prawns
- If not using for a few hours, place prawns in a cooler with ice to keep them in the best condition and to help prevent deteriorating.
- Fresh prawns are translucent in colour and lively. Their tails should not be curled up and be aligned with the head.
- If the head is starting to show some black, deterioration has started.
- Do not rinse live prawns under water before cooking.
- Cook live prawns immediately. If storing longer, remove the head.
- Once the head is removed and prawns are rinsed under cold water they can be frozen in a container or freezer bag for up to six months. Pack them loosely in a solution of 1.5 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt.
Where is the best place to buy fresh BC spot prawns?
Check for the latest updates and save by buying direct from the fisherman. Find out more at BC Live Spot Prawns and Seafood
Fishermen’s Wharf Vancouver
Head down to Vancouver’s Fishermen’s Wharf on False Creek, near Granville Island to buy directly from the local fishing boats.
Before you go, check these websites to find out what is available and order ahead from Fishermen’s Wharf False Creek, and Salty Stew.
Fishing boats usually arrive between noon and 3 p.m., depending on the weather.
We last bought our prawns from Salty Stew’s boat at Vancouver’s Fishermen’s Wharf on False Creek.
Vancouver Fishermen’s Wharf at False Creek, spot prawn sales and other seasonal seafood sales. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Steveston Wharf in Richmond
Buy direct from the fisherman on the Steveston Harbour Fishermen’s Wharf in Richmond, but remember, it’s best to order online before you go.
On the dock, look for the Kershaw and Takasaki families’ fishing boat with the Prawns on the Spot sign. They have carried on the fishing tradition for five generations.
The fishing vessel, Just Travlin comes in daily to sell their spot prawn catch. Pre-order starts a week before the season opens on May 15. Check their Facebook or Instagram page for real time updates. Just Travlin is one of the few boats that take cash or card payments. This year, their prawns are featured by in dishes by numerous restaurants participating in Steveston Spot Prawn and Seafood Celebration.
Starting around the middle of June this boat also sells fresh Dungeness crab on Saturdays at the daily market rate.
Watch the video Meet Steveston spot prawn fisherman Frank Keitsch. He talks about the dangerous life of a fisher and about the highly coveted seafood.
Freshly caught Dungeness crab from Just Travlin at Steveston’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
Looking for other areas in BC to buy wild pacific spot prawns? Check here.
Craving more fresh BC seafood? Don’t miss finding out about where to buy fresh Saltspring Island Mussels, available all year.
How much are spot prawns?
Availability and pricing of spot prawns change depending on market fluctuations. In 2023, BC spot prawns are $25 /lb. Most fishing boats only accept cash and some accept credit cards or debt.
The daily catch sells out quickly. Arrive early, order online for pick up or delivery.
You can also buy fresh frozen spot prawns out of season without the tail on.
How to cook spot prawns
Spot prawns can be prepared and served in many ways. The recipe below is how we cook them.
Quick and easy spot prawn recipe
This is the best way to cook spot prawns in less than five minutes. Do not overcook them.
This simple method is a quick and easy way to cook spot prawns to retain its delicate flavour and texture.
We allowed one pound of spot prawns per serving.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. We used 1/4 cup of salt for 5 pounds of prawns.
- Drop the live, unpeeled spotted prawns into the boiling water.
- Boil for one to two minutes.
- The translucent prawns will turn a darker pinky-orange colour.
- Remove from water
- Plunge immediately into a pot of ice cold water
- Serve with lemon and a large fresh green salad.
- Spot prawns are very easy to peel.
Best way to cook spot prawns. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Here are a few other ways to prepare spot prawns.
Best wine to serve with spot prawns
Our spot prawn feast paired nicely with a bottle of Riesling from Nk’Mip Cellars.
Nk’Mip is North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery. The winery is located in Osoyoos in the Okanagan.
Best wine to serve with BC spot pawns. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
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