These are medium to large sea caught prawns/shrimps. I try to get “wild” sea prawns/shrimps, as opposed to fishpond raised prawns, whenever possible because they seem to have more “character.” Does that make any sense? Could I really tell a cooked fishpond raised prawn from its wild cousin if I were blindfolded? Maybe not. But the romance of eating a prawn that was free to roam the deep sea, constantly darting its bulging eyes, on the lookout for large predators like fish or giant turtles, somehow appeals to me. And yet, I am the ultimate predator by being the one who does in fact munch on the prawns. Prawns caught in the open sea seem to possess a lighter, more natural color (unlike the black tiger prawns raised in ponds that are uniformly grey-black), and they sometimes have vivid, shades of blue and orange on some parts of their body.
They have fed on natural sources of food (and yup, that might include a few strange “natural” viands), and unlike pond fed shrimp, seem to be a bit more “muscular,” if you could describe a shrimp as such. They taste a bit more natural too, though again, I am not sure I could really tell them apart if blindfolded. It’s both a texture and taste thing… For our recent lechon #4 Birthday feast, I also had Victor, my expert food acquirer, head to the fish market early that morning to buy prawns and crabs. These two kilos of sea prawns were incredibly fresh, and all we did was pour a lot of kosher salt on them then add them to the grill. I added a lot of lemongrass or tanglad leaves to the coals below (which burned) but there didn’t seem to be any notable impact on the flavor of the prawns… I was going for a “smoked lemongrass” smell…
Making sure not to overcook the prawns, we pulled them off the fire after cooking just a few minutes on each side.
A little bit of this sawsawan or dip with vinegar, soy sauce, chillies, onions and tomatoes and we were in sea prawn heaven!
Also, notice how the shells of the prawns don’t seem to turn that bright orange which many of the darker pond raised prawns have a tendency to do… Next up, the alimasag from the same lunch! Yum.