While they may look (and taste!) like tiny lobsters, these delicate and sweet spot prawns are actually very large shrimp. Serve them with a bit of spicy-sweet ‘nduja, butter and lemon juice… and many some crusty bread or parker house rolls to soak up the juices!
Are you ready for the most elegant and delicious summertime appetizer?!
Here in Southern California you may hear spot prawns referred to as “Santa Barbara Spot Prawns” a reference to the Santa Barbara coastline where they are carefully harvested by local fishermen. In Alaska–the locals refer to them as Alaskan Spot Prawns.
No matter what you call them this much is true–Spot Prawns are a very special delicacy and a delight to eat! They have a mild and delicate flavor, like a cross between buttery lobster and shrimp.
They really don’t need much to make them taste great. I cook them on a grill and them douse them in a simple sauce made with just three ingredients; ‘Nduja (more on this below) melted butter and lemon juice. Spot Prawns, like shrimp, should be eaten with your hands so be prepared to get a bit messy!
What is ‘Nduja? ‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable fermented pork sausage from Italy. It’s seasoned with Calabrian chilies and smoked paprika. It has the most incredibly porky-spicy-sweet flavor.
Note: Spot prawns are local to the West Coast and even here can be tricky to find. If you can’t manage track them down for this recipe you can substitute large, head-on shrimp.
Ingredients You’ll Need
All you need to make this recipe is four ingredients: ‘Nduja, spot prawns, butter and lemon.
*See recipe card for additional notes and ingredient substitutions.*
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Preheat
First decide if you’re going to grill the prawns or boil them. Grilling is my preferred method it imparts and beautiful smokey flavor on the prawns. That said, a large pot of boiling salted water will work too.
Step 2. Make the Sauce
The sauce for the prawns is a very simple mixture of melted butter and salty pork ‘Nduja. Add the butter and ‘nduja to a pan and place over medium-low heat. Let it slowly render and warm up–no need to caramelize or brown the sausage.
Step 3. Cook the Prawns
Place the prawns on the grill (or gently drop them into a pot of boiling water) cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the shells are bright red.
Step 4. Serve
Transfer the prawns to a large plate or platter and top with the melted butter and ‘Nduja as well as a big squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately.
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Spot Prawns with ‘Nduja, Butter and Lemon
- 8 large live spot prawns or 8-12 large head on shrimp
- 4 oz 'Nduja or Spanish Chorizo about ½ cup
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ lemon
- Preheat a gass or charcoal grill to high heat. Note: if you don't have access to a grill the prawns can be cooked in a pot of salted boiling water.
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat then add in the 'Nduja. Stir and break to the 'Nduja with the back of a wooded spoon. Keep the heat low–you're not looking to harshly sauté or brown the sausage, more so just render out some of that fat and warm it up.
- While the 'Nduja is warming up place the prawns on onto the grill, directly onto the grates then cover and cook for 3 minutes. After three minutes flip them over and continue cooking, covered for 1-2 minutes just until the shells are bright red. Note: if using the boil method, drop the prawns in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook covered for 3-5 minutes until the shells are bright red.
- Transfer the prawns to a large plate or platter, spoon the 'nduja and butter mixutre over top followed by a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immedietly.
- Spot Prawns: While they may look (and taste!) like tiny lobsters, these delicate and sweet spot prawns are actually very large shrimp. Spot prawns are local to the West Coast and even here can be tricky to find. If you can’t manage track them down for this recipe you can substitute large, head-on shrimp.
- ‘Nduja:‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable fermented pork sausage from Italy. It’s seasoned with Calabrian chilies and smoked paprika. It has the most incredibly porky-spicy-sweet flavor. If you can’t find ‘nduja substitute Spanish chorizo.