We are having an interesting adventure with local eating. First of all, our Florida Prince peach tree is bearing ripe fruit.
Oh, good, peaches! I’ll make a cobbler.
I went from “Oh good,” to “Oh God” in three days.
I made a second cobbler and put rest of the peaches into a cooler with ice until I can process them. I plan to make peach preserves today, and freeze the rest. But this is only part of the crop! There are still more peaches on the tree. They are tiny and take forever to peel, pit, and slice. I see my future stretching endlessly ahead of me….
But on to other culinary adventures. We are trying to observe Meatless Mondays and Meatless Fridays as a way of reducing our carbon footprint. And we are always looking for locally sourced foods as another way to keep from pouring more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It was in that mode that I remembered the Dory Fleet in nearby Newport Beach. It may be the last place in America where the public can buy fish directly from the fishermen. But one must get to the pier by 5 am to get the best choice, and I am not a morning person. I checked online to see what they are catching, and found Spot Prawns mentioned. I had never heard of Spot Prawns
Some research showed that Pearson’s Port on Newport Bay is a fish shop that carries live Spot Prawns. Apparently, the prawns are best cooked as soon as possible (i.e., cooked while live), because the heads produce an enzyme that will spoil the meat within a couple of hours after the prawns die. This is not something that you want to buy dead on ice.
I figured it would be best to buy the prawns around noon at Pearson’s Port rather than 6 am at the dory fleet, and have them for lunch. So we resolved to have Spot Prawns as part of our meatless Friday, as well as a local food.
We learned that Spot Prawns are sustainably fished, which is important to us. They are all born male, but by two years, they all turn into females. So the large prawns that we bought were all female, having been males last year. Weird.
The man at the fish shop offered to take their heads off for us, but he recommended cooking the heads as well. And that is what I did.
The prawns were pretty big. I sautéed the prawns for two minutes per side in olive oil and coarsely grated Himalayan pink salt. The idea is that you get the oil and salt on your fingers as you peel and eat the shrimp. I melted butter with lemon juice for one dip, and made a second dip of sesame oil, lime juice, cilantro, and a hint of mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine). Both were great. The tails were sweet and succulent, more like lobster than shrimp. The taste was divine, and I am definitely going to make them again. But not too often because the four prawns cost $15. Two were OK for lunch, but I could have easily eaten three. Or four. Or…. They were SOOOO good.
The heads with thoraxes had a few drops of tasty liquid in them, but not much else except eggs. As an experiment, I decided to simmer the heads and the discarded shells from the tail in a quart of water to make a stock for Spot Prawn Bisque. I added a half onion, a carrot, a couple of stalks of celery, and half a cup of white wine. I also dumped in the rest of the lemon – butter that we had dipped our artichokes into.
After the broth had simmered for nearly an hour, I turned off the stove and strained out the chunks from the broth. (Our chickens got the carrot and celery and I used the spot prawn heads to bait a live trap for a possum that wanted to eat my peaches. Caught one too, and released him elsewhere.)
I thickened the stock with 1/4 C flour, and added a pint of half and half, and a goodly dollop of sherry. That was our spot prawn bisque that we had for dinner. But it was too much for one meal. The next night, I diced two gold potatoes, a half onion, and 3 ounces of bacon and fried that up until done. I added the leftover bisque to that and made a hearty chowder for the next night’s dinner. And there was enough of THAT left for lunch today. So we got four meals out of those four prawns. Not too shabby.