Yes, shrimp/prawns are graded by size. And at roughly 3 (actually a little less than that) pieces per pound or 6 pieces (with heads on) roughly per kilo, these mammoth black tiger prawns from the Nasugu market definitely rated an “extra colossal” grading. The photos don’t convey their massive size but at roughly 180 grams a piece, five of them weighed about as much as a small dressed chicken.
At PHP800 per kilo before a small suki discount, I thought they were rather expensive, until I googled the equivalent in the U.S. and saw them on mail-order for $93 for one kilo of shrimp, or roughly PHP4,000 a kilo! Yipes! We had houseguests at the beach and I bought just 7 pieces of these prawns, which came in at roughly 1.2 kilos.
After cutting off their “whiskers” and the sharp barb on their head, we slice them down their backs and removed the intestinal sac. I seasoned them with a squirt of fresh Dalanmansi or Kalamdan juice (more on that later), salt and pepper and generous amounts of butter with lightly sautéed chopped garlic and lots of chopped italian parsley.
I put them on the grill over a medium-high charcoal fire and waited until the shells and head stunned a bright orange color. Don’t turn them over, just let the shrimp cook from below and watch the butter start to bubble and gently heat the thick shrimp meat. You may want to carefully re-position the prawns on the grill grates, but be careful that you don’t spill all the precious butter and aromatics into the fire below. This took just a few minutes to cook. I ate one piece just minutes after we took it off the coals and it was SPECTACULAR! Almost as meaty as a small lobster, with slightly more firm meat and a little less sweetness, but delicious nonetheless. If we were being good, just one of these prawns and a side salad would have made a terrific lunch. But we were being bad, and had lots of other things to help hide our belly stretch marks by expanding the skin even further… :)