Shrimp are found all over the world. From saltwater to freshwater, wild, farmed and frozen. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. The list goes on.
Prawns are generally found in freshwater environments.
Spot prawns; however, are found exclusively in the Pacific Ocean, from the Gulf of Alaska down to Northern Baja California. Our California Spot Prawns hail from the Southern California Bight, with main ports of entry at Santa Barbara, San Pedro and San Diego.
It’s in California where spot prawns were initially discovered in the 1930s, hanging out in octopus traps off the coast of Monterey. Today, they’re caught in pot traps to ensure careful handling and effective fisheries management (shoutout to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife).
Spot prawns dwell deep, inhabiting depths of 600 ft. to1,500 ft. on soft and rocky bottoms.
Average life span for a spot prawn is around six years. It’s around year four or five when something magical happens: spot prawns start transitioning from male to female. Spot prawns start life as males, then they join the other team after their first spawn as males. They’re a true example of a hermaphrodite in the natural world, a protrandic hermaphrodite, if you want to get the scientific term spot-on.
Spot prawns spawn once a year, with each individual spot prawn mating once as a male and once or twice as a female. This typically occurs from October through January. That’s the reason spot prawn season is closed during that time.
Spot prawns are a rarity and a delicacy. Careful handling is critical, as they must be enjoyed immediately after they decease. (There’s an enzyme in them that instantly begins decomposing the muscular structure, leading to a “mushy” texture when cooked if not handled properly.)
As finding and preparing spot prawns can be a little, well, spotty, it goes without saying that the best way to enjoy them is fresh from the water. At Water Grill, we fill our saltwater tanks with live spot prawns and prepare them to order.
Spot prawns are delicate and delicious. We may refer to them as delicate, but the firm texture makes them sweet and gives a “pop” of flavor every time you take a bite.