Cook’s Guide To: Prawns
There are over 300 different species of prawns. The most popular ones available in local markets and supermarkets are tiger prawns and white prawns. You might also occasionally get the much larger Angka prawns.
Prawns are an extremely good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, iodine and potassium. Although they are high in cholesterol content, they are low in saturated fat, which is the unhealthy fat that raises cholesterol levels.
How to choose?
For the best flavour, live or fresh prawns should always be purchased. You should look out for the following when buying:
– They must always be displayed on ice
– The shell (including the head) should be intact and not broken or slimy. The meat should always be firm and full to the shell.
– The eyes should be shiny and not shrunken inwards, with discolouration on the head and shell.
– They should smell fresh. Avoid those that are very fishy or with any hint of ammonia smell.
– There should not be any signs of too much ice particles within the bag of frozen prawns – a sign that the prawns have been defrosted before through mishandling.
How to store?
If bought fresh, prawns should be kept in the coldest part of the fridge, preferably on some ice and in an airtight container to prevent cross-contamination. They should be consumed by the following day. Alternatively for freezing, place the prawns in water in a container and store them in the freezer. They can last for up to three months. However, a better option would be to purchase IQF (individually quick frozen) prawns, which are commercially flash frozen upon harvesting, hence having much better results than doing it at home. Some come already peeled and de-veined, which is a very good choice for people with busy lifestyles. Simply take the quantity you want and proceed to defrost them.
Defrosting should ideally be done in the fridge the day prior to using as rapid thawing out in the sink at room temperature can cause the prawns to lose some of its flavour and increase the risk of bacteria building on the prawns.
Tips on preparing and cooking prawns
– A recipe that call for prawns to be peeled should also be deveined (removal of the intestinal tract that could sometimes be sandy). Simply make an incision along the back of the prawn and this should expose the thin black line. You can remove it easily with a toothpick.
– Never marinade prawns in any citrus juice (or anything acidic) for more than 30-40 minutes as the prawns will start ‘cooking’ in the acids and cause them to dry out.
Try these prawn recipes from Meryvn:
Recipe: Steamed prawns in fragrant whole Thai coconut
The longer preparation time for this delicious dish is well worth it!
Recipe: Grilled prawn kebabs & zucchini Mediterranean-style
This prawn recipe is great for barbeques and house parties.
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