If you happen to get you hands on some spot prawns, it is basically a shame to even cook them… Therefore, CEVICHE! Their delicate sweet flavour is perfectly combined with some heat from chilies, citrus, and fresh herbs.
Spring has sprung, and while it is only 12˚C outside I am fully in patio mode. I am also refusing to wear jeans again until at least mid September; goose bumps, come at me! Derek is also beginning his summer state of being in that he has been out on the boat both days this weekend. Currently, salmon fishing is banned until the end of summer in Vancouver to help protect the orca whale populations. I will never be a fisherman because I see absolutely no point in fishing if you can’t keep anything you catch, but this is exactly what Derek has been spending his time doing. On the bright side, each day he has come home with the most amazing haul of spot prawns.
Spot prawns are a type of prawn that live in the cold, deep waters of the Pacific Northwest. One catches them in big prawn traps that you drop at the beginning of your fishing day, filled with dog food, and comeback for as you head for land. Compared to regular prawns, they have a deliciously sweet flavour and great texture when raw. They also are a beautiful pink colour even when uncooked. For these reasons, they lend themselves brilliantly to being eaten raw. In fact, it is tradition that for each spot prawn haul, you eat one prawn completely raw as soon as you pull it up from the depths. I always have a bit of a hard time with this, particularly in pulling the head off of a prawn that is very much alive, but they truly are delicious.
If you don’t have a fishing-obsessed boyfriend you can buy spot prawns at most fish markets in Vancouver, and I’m assuming in coastal cities along their living range, from San Diego, CA, to Alaska. In stores, you will likely find them frozen. Finally, if you don’t have access to spot prawns at all, tiger prawns will do. Just make sure you are getting them as fresh as possible (i.e. from a proper fishmonger, or fish counter at a good grocery store).
So lets talk about ceviche. This seafood dish is made in slightly different variations in many South American coastal countries. It is most typically made with fish, tossed in some kind of citrus to lightly cook the fish with acid. It also often has chili peppers, cilantro, and other fresh ingredients. During Derek’s and my South American travels, our best ceviche was in the colourful seaside town of Val Paraiso, near Santiago, Chile. Chilean ceviche is made with white fish, and includes bell peppers and a spice blend called merken.
So when Derek came home today with a bucket of spot prawns, I knew that due to my patio mentality, and how insanely good spot prawns are raw, I had to make some sort of ceviche for dinner. Because it is spring, I used spring-y ingredients like pea shoots and snap peas. I used three different citruses, adding orange to the typical lemon and lime because it compliments the peas and the sweet flavour of the prawns. I then used cherry tomatoes, shallots, garlic, 2 types of chilis, and a variety of herbs to complete this dish. I had planned on making more of a dinner, but Derek and I ended up just eating this right from the bowl, curled up in a blanket in the spring sunshine with a glass of rosé. Perfection? I think so.
Spot Prawn Ceviche
- 2.5 cups of peeled, headless raw spot prawns
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 orange
- 1/2 lime
- 1 clove garlic, finely diced
- 1/2 to 1 jalapeño (depending on how spicy it is), de-seeded and chopped finely
- 1 birds eye chili, sliced as thinly as possible
- 1 tsp merken (or 1 tsp smoke paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper)
- 1 tsp coarsely ground sea salt
- 1 tsp course black pepper
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1 cup snap peas, chopped
- 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup pea shoots
- Chop the spot prawns into ~1cm square pieces
- Collect 1 tsp on lemon zest, 1 tsp of lime zest, and 1 tbsp of orange zest.
- Combine the zest with the juice from 1 whole lemon, 1/2 an orange, and 1/2 a lime in a small bowl. Add the garlic, jalapeño, bird eye chili, salt, pepper, and merken.
- Add the prawns, tomatoes, shallots and snap peas to a large bowl. Toss in the sauce prepared above. This mixture can be store in the refrigerator for a few hours, but the fresher the better.
- Add the fresh herbs (mint, chives, Italian parsley, and cilantro) and pea shoots immediately before serving and give a quick toss.
- Serve alone, or with corn tortilla chips.