Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Local spot prawns

Spot prawns meet just about everyone’s desires. They provide a sweet flavor with a firm texture, and are a delicious and locally harvested treat from May through mid-July.
Spot prawns, so called because of the distinctive white spots on their pink shells, are the largest shrimp in Puget Sound and might reach a length of more than nine inches, excluding the antennae. Although their season is usually short, this is one of the most important shrimp species for both sport and commercial fishermen
A flexible ingredient, they can be fried, grilled, barbecued, sautéed, boiled, roasted, baked, steamed and used in soup.
“I love the sweet flavor of our local spot prawns,” says Kathy Casey, a Seattle-based celebrity chef. “Luckily, the spot prawn season comes right in line with local asparagus and wild morel mushrooms, featured in this pasta dish.”
When cooking with spot prawns, Casey saves the shells using them to make a shrimp stock in this or other recipes.
Spot Prawn Pasta with Lemon Cream
Makes 4 servings
• 12 ounces dried linguine pasta
• Splash of olive oil, plus2 tablespoons
• Salt
• 1 cup thinly sliced fresh morel mushrooms or substitute cremini or button mushrooms (about 4 to 5 ounces)
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
• 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/4 cup clam juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 1 cup thinly diagonally sliced asparagus
• 1/2 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen peas, thawed and drained
• 1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
• 1 pound spot prawns or other large shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest
• 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions, or until just al dente. Drain well, toss very lightly with a splash of olive oil and salt to taste, then cover and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, start the sauce. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet or sauté pan over high heat. Sauté the mushrooms until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and sauté 30 seconds more.
3. Add the clam juice, lemon juice and wine and cook to reduce to one-fourth of the original volume, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream, then add the asparagus, fresh peas if using, bell pepper, prawns and lemon zest and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the cooked pasta and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes more, until the sauce is coating the pasta and the liquid is almost all absorbed. Toss in 2 tablespoons of the chives and the thawed frozen peas if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the pasta on warm plates, being sure to get some “goodies” on each portion. Sprinkle with the remaining chives.
Note from the chef: For an extra shrimp boost for this recipe you can roast the shrimp shells in a preheated 375°F oven on a baking sheet for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until just lightly toasted. Then mix them in a saucepan with the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and let the shells infuse the cream with flavor for 30 minutes, then strain and use the cream for the pasta sauce. (Discard the shrimp shells.)
Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.