Are you struggling to peel prawns? This tutorial will teach you how to peel spot prawns (the easy way!) with scissors.
There’s no question about it. Alaska spot prawns (also called spot shrimp) are a delicacy.
These beauties are available seasonally and can be difficult to source. We bought ours from Sitka Salmon Shares.
Once you’ve found some, though, you might be a little confused.
They can be kind of intimidating.
Because, although peeling thing isn’t difficult (I promise), they’re also somewhat trickier to peel than the shrimp you might normally find at the grocery store.
The good news is, peeling them doesn’t have to be difficult. Actually, it’s pretty simple.
I’ll show you how to do it.
What About the Spot Prawn Roe?
One of the amazing (and again, intimidating) things about spot prawns are the roe. Sometimes, but not always, spot prawns will come with roe (eggs) attached.
The bad news is… I’m just kidding, there’s no bad news. It’s all good!
However, if your spot prawns have roe, I recommend peeling the shrimp while it’s still partially frozen. This will make the roe easier to pop out of the shells.
If your fingers get too cold, it’s okay to take a (quick!) break to warm them back up. Or, to speed things up, recruit someone else to help you prepare the spot prawns!
How to Peel Spot Prawns
This post assumes that you’re working with purchased, frozen spot prawns without the heads attached.
Add your spot prawns to a large bowl and fill it with cold (not warm, not hot) water.
If you tend to be forgetful (like me), set a timer for 15 minutes.
If you see roe on the underside of your spot prawns, you’ll want to be extra diligent about the timer.
Once the shrimp have begun to thaw, but are still mostly frozen, it’s time to start peeling. At this point, I like to drain the cold water out of the bowl to stop the shrimp from continuing to quick thaw.
How to Organize the Spot Prawns As You Peel
Organizing your shrimp peeling station might sound silly at first, but it will really speed up the process. I like to have two (or possibly three) separate bowls within arm’s reach.
I put the peeled prawns in one bowl and the shells in another.
If there are roe and I plan to use them right away (like in risotto!), I put those in a third bowl. Otherwise, the roe go into a bowl with the shells, and then both the shells and roe go into the freezer to use for later.
Use Kitchen Shears to Peel the Prawns
Grab your favorite pair of kitchen shears and get to work.
Start on the outer top of the spot prawn (where the top of the head would be), and cut through the shell down to the tail.
After cutting, peel back the shell on both sides.
The shell should come off pretty easily.
Once the sides are peeled back, wiggle the shrimp and carefully pull it out of the shell.
Be gentle here, because if you’re not careful the tail meat could break off.
If the spot prawn has roe attached, you can now flip the shell over and pop out the (mostly frozen) roe.
However, if your prawns are thawed, this step will be a little messier.
How to Peel Spot Prawns
- kitchen shears
- large bowl
- 1 pound spot prawns (frozen)
- Add frozen spot prawns to a large bowl and fill with cold (not warm or hot) water. Let the prawns thaw for about 15 minutes. Optionally, drain the water to stop the shrimp from continuing to quick thaw.Tip: If the prawns have roe, it will be easiest to remove while the prawns are still partially frozen.
- Using kitchen shears (scissors), cut the prawn from head to tail along the upper, rounded portion of the shell.
- Use your fingers to peel both sides of the shell back away from the meat.If you notice a dark vein on the shrimp (the digestive tract), you should be able to easily remove it at this point by using the tip of the scissors or a small paring knife. (Deveining the shrimp is optional.)
- Gently remove the prawn meat, taking care not to accidentally tear off part of the tail.Store the shrimp meat in the fridge until you're ready to use. Use within 1 day.
- If the prawns have roe attached, flip the shell over. You can now separate the roe from the shell. Refrigerate the roe until ready to use and use within 1 day. Store the shells in the freezer and use to make stock when you're ready.Alternatively, leave the roe in the shell and place both in a freezer bag to make stock later.