Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An invasion of giant prawns

Vietnam PortraitImage by laurent KB via Flickr
Costco Wholesale sells farmed prawns from Vietnam.

I stopped at Costco Wholesale on Sunday afternoon to pick up a few items -- raw almonds, organic spring mix, hothouse-grown beefsteak tomatoes and Japanese green tea -- and drifted over to the fish case.

I had taken a break from wild salmon and looked for more. I noticed the fillets from the Northwest went up a dollar, to $8.99 a pound, still a good deal.

Then I saw the biggest prawns I've ever seen in the Hackensack store. 

The farmed Black Tiger Prawns from Vietnam were designated U-4 -- four to a pound -- and unlike the smaller ones I've been buying for a couple of years, they are sold with the heads on.

They measured 6 inches or more, and between the head and tail, each had about three inches of meat under the shell. They were $12.99 a pound, compared to $9.99 or $9.50 a pound for the smaller prawns.

I marinated them in fresh lemon juice and spices in their shells for a few hours before pan frying them in olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side, until the shells turned pink, then put them under the broiler for a few minutes more.

Next time, I'll remove the shells before marinating and cooking the prawns, because the delicious meat needed a squeeze of lemon juice before I ate it.

Shelling them was incredibly messy, with the spices getting all over my fingers, but the prawns were succulent, the best I've ever had.

All I needed to complete the meal was a glass or two of wine, a small bowl of gazpacho I made earlier in the day, and a big salad of Earthbound Farm spring mix with cucumber, tomato, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The five giant prawns I bought had been packaged by Costco, but in the past,  I've brought home smaller prawns labeled "SeaMazz," the trade name of the Mazzetta Co. in Highland Park.

The U-4 prawns were treated with a preservative, sodium bisulfite, but the Seamazz U-15 farmed prawns from Bangladesh I have in the freezer weren't.

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