One of the great things about fresh Pacific spot prawns in winter is that they are a rare treat. Few people bother to rig their boats for shrimp up here on the Sonoma coast. When a boat does make a successful shrimp run, the tasty prizes usually sell out the same day, so it's a lucky cook who makes the connection. You might call our friends at the Tides Wharf in Bodega Bay (707-875-3562) to reserve a pound or two, if they are available.
Linguini with Spot Prawns
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil and peel and de-vein:
16 or 24 large fresh spot prawns
Make sure to reserve any of the bright orange roe, as in winter a few of these prawns will still be clinging to a clutch of delicious eggs.
- Put on to cook:
1 lb. dry linguini
- Sauté briefly in a large skillet:
4T olive oil
3T fresh garlic, minced
1/2t crushed dried red chili flakes and a good pinch of coarse sea salt
- Place the prawns in the skillet and toss them a couple of times to coat them with the oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Let them sit and cook on a medium-high fire until you judge them to be almost half-cooked (about a minute or two).
- Turn the shrimp over individually and let them sit and cook about one more minute. Then add what clumps of roe you have reserved to the pan.
Note: These wild spot prawns are sold just as they come off the boat--some big ones, some small ones. At this point, pull out any small ones that are cooked through, and set them aside.
- Add and cook over a high fire for just about half a minute, or until you judge all your big prawns have cooked:
- At this point, your linquini should be cooked, so drain it and toss into the pan (now off the fire) with the prawns, and:
2T fresh parsley, chopped
and the juice of one meyer lemon
- Serve family-style or divide onto plates. You will be delighted by the vibrant colors and the taste and texture of these nature gifts, quite literally "just off the boat."
A Menu Suggestion
- An antipasto of olives, pickled vegetables, fresh winter vegetables with bagna cauda, and bread
- Linguini with spot prawns
- A salad of frisée and mixed greens, vinaigrette with crisp apples, persimmons, toasted walnuts and Bellwether Blue Cheese.
- Slices oranges, chocolates and coffee
This meal works well with the wines of the Russian River valley and the cooler rolling hills of Green Valley, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I wouldn't want a Chardonnay overly oaked or buttery, and the Pinot Noir should be lively, young and full of fruit.
My suggestion would be to keep an eye out for the 1998 releases from Iron Horse Vineyards. These wines should be in the market around mid-January and hopefully there will still be some fresh spot prawns being brought into Bodega Bay from the chill blue sea.