11 Aug2008


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.



  1. Ellen says:

    Hello, MM! I like this kind of prawn, too! I find them tastier from the tiger prawns that I usually see in the market. But, instead of grilling it, I use these prawns for sinigang…really delicious!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 1:34 pm


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  3. Beth says:

    Yummy! You’re right MM,I love sea prawns/shrimps better than tiger black prawns—it’s more tender and flavorful—taste of the sea!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 1:36 pm

  4. AleXena says:

    I once bought shrimps like these in our wet market that according to the vendor were catch from the sea. I used it to cook sinigang and yes the flavor and texture was different from pond-raised suahe and sugpo.=)

    Have a question though Market Man, was the skin a little bit rougher on both its head and tail? I noticed the skin has a grain-like texture for the shirmps that I bought, which are very similar to these ones.

    Aug 11, 2008 | 1:46 pm

  5. Mila says:

    Free range prawns! When you see them under water, some of them have gorgeous blue/purple spots. I always enjoy spotting them in a crevice, some of them tiny, but with gorgeous spots and streaks on their shells.

    Aug 11, 2008 | 2:41 pm

  6. Topster says:

    Beautiful looking prawns! I’d love to use them for my sinigang!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 3:18 pm

  7. carina says:

    oh my. i love to be on that superb lunch!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 3:44 pm

  8. Vanessa says:

    Oh man. These look so good. And don’t even get me started on the sawsawan!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 3:54 pm

  9. Rico says:

    And I thought those prawns were enough! You had alimasag?
    What a wonderful wonderful party that was! Lechon, prawns, and alimasag!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 4:53 pm

  10. Ejit says:

    MM, I’m just wondering if you grilled the shrimp does it still have the “juice” that comes out of the head? I dont know for others but I like eating my shrimp with sucking the juice out of the head first before I eat the meat.

    Aug 11, 2008 | 8:12 pm

  11. Thel says:

    What a bunch of VERY LUCKY employees. Bless your heart MM!

    Aug 11, 2008 | 8:30 pm

  12. natie says:

    …do you need a company nurse????????? :-)

    Aug 11, 2008 | 10:14 pm

  13. inked_chef says:

    MM… Are these green tiger prawns? Bulik?

    Aug 11, 2008 | 10:46 pm

  14. lucadong says:

    if they taste the same, you must have a very high quality of farm raised prawns/shrimps there and i assume they were never frozen. in some places, questionable farming practice (though not illegal) make a big difference. for the less fortunate me, i have to rely and trust the labeling of previously frozen prawns and shrimps to enjoy a bowl of sinigang.
    …tapos may alimasag pa?…gutom na talago ‘ko

    Aug 12, 2008 | 1:49 am

  15. kate says:

    the finished product with the sauce looks so yummy! btw, whats the logic behind the color? how come pond raised shrimp turn bright orange while these look pale when cooked?

    Aug 12, 2008 | 2:22 am

  16. Marketman says:

    kate, I am not sure what the real scientific explanation is, if any, it’s just been my personal observation that the shrimps and prawns from the sea tend to have lighter shells/colors. As for the bright tinges of color on sea prawns, I think that is evolutionary camouflage. For the pond raised prawns, it could just be the species, e.g., black tiger prawns, and they might also be affected by the “tight” conditions of a fish pond… but I don’t know that any of that is factually correct. lucadong, yes, the farmed prawns here that I purchase are still alive. Also, we used to have prawn farms and the harvests we got tasted pretty good… inked chef, I don’t think they are tiger prawns, not black or grey ones at least, but rather sea caught prawns. natie, with all this cholesterol and high-uric acid, we might indeed need a company nurse in the years ahead :) Thel, about 20 or us at the office enjoyed this birthday feast, and that didn’t include Artisan and family as well. Everyone from mason to office manager helped prepare and cook, as well as eat all of the goodies. Ejit, yes, if you don’t overcook the shrimp they still had the head juice. Rico, with the lechonan and grill stoked with nearly 2 sacks of charcoal, we kept coming up with ideas for what else to grill that day! Mila, I like that. Will start referring to them as free-range prawns from now on. Alexena, yes, the heads do seem rougher and sharper, maybe because they are in the wild. And they tend to be more muscular, more “busok” due to conditions in the sea. I have to try these in sinigang soon!

    Aug 12, 2008 | 7:21 am

  17. AleXena says:

    Thanks for the info Market Man=) it was indeed sea shrimps which I bought couple of months back at our wet market. Definitely try it in sinigang, maybe in sampalok or better yet in kalamias as your souring agent.=)

    You will surely notice that the broth tastes like the sea and has more flavor. It isn’t also that “fishy” as compared to its pond-raised counterparts.=)

    Aug 12, 2008 | 8:16 am

  18. Apicio says:

    Like the comments above, I suspect too that the coloration (and flavor) is most likely a function of the particular variety, its habitat and the diet available in that habitat. My town folks showed no preference between cultured and wild prawns and being knowledgeable seafarers, they can (and usually do) draw fine points in these matters. Mother could not tell just by looking or tasting of the prawns themselves though she could tell by whom she bought them from. While eating, she simply had to eye me. I use to suddenly break out in a dramatic transformation that’s not too far from a chameleon or an octopus shifting camouflage right after eating wild prawns.

    Aug 12, 2008 | 9:14 am

  19. home economist says:

    hehehe. this post is full of shrimp/prawn, shrimp and prawn, prawn/shrimp…
    what’s the difference anyway? this question has bothered me for years! most people say its just size. so how do you distinguish big and small?

    Aug 12, 2008 | 9:42 pm

  20. EbbaMyra says:

    Umm, hindi makapasok ang earlier comments ko ah. Anyway, here in Houston, most Vietnamese market sells previously frozen shrimp, ok pa rin and I try to buy the ones that looks fresher (yung medio pinkist pa at walang itim-itim on the heads). But at some American groceries, ang tinitinda naman eh “still” frozen shrimps which is cheaper. Some fish mongers told me that those frozen ones are better, kasi they came straight from the boat, also they are less handled (meaning hindi pa masyadong na-huhugasan ng maraming kamay). Kaya yun ang binibili ko whenever they have it available. Same daw with the headless shrimp, sa sobrang linis sa pag-tatanggal ng ulo eh halos wala ng lasa yung hipon, so I buy the ones with the head. By the way, my maiden’s name is Banagan – in English alam mo ba yon Mr. MM? Hahaha, ikaw naman ang pag-iisipin ko. Your turn.

    Aug 12, 2008 | 11:44 pm

  21. openonymous says:

    tell me again, what is the difference between prawns and shrimps and don’t say price!

    Aug 13, 2008 | 3:59 am

  22. thelma says:


    Aug 13, 2008 | 7:23 am

  23. alilay says:

    ebba myra i know your maiden name in English , i love this seafood too, very expensive di ba? starts with an L ends with an R

    Aug 14, 2008 | 4:56 am

  24. EbbaMyra says:

    Alilay…ummm.. meron pang ibang translation ang Banagan? Yikes, iba ang sa akin eh. Starts with T, and yeap end in R. Pero 2-words siya. 2nd word is pretty much ordinary term.

    Aug 14, 2008 | 9:59 pm

  25. EbbaMyra says:

    Alilay, sabi ng sister ko pareho daw tayong tama. It depends daw from which province one came from. She Wikie’d the info.

    Aug 14, 2008 | 11:35 pm

  26. Maki says:

    I will include this one in our menu next week MM… ^___^

    any prawns will do for me.. ^__^

    Nov 20, 2008 | 3:42 pm

  27. Glenn says:

    How do you cook prawn on butter and garlic?
    Melted Butter then saute your fresh garlic until light brown then your prawn right? or maybe a little bit spices like ground pepper and salt

    Thank you

    Apr 19, 2009 | 1:27 pm

  28. cliff says:

    i want to buy frozen prawns in 500g, 800g and 1kg for birmingham, uk if you have the product please email me at cpagba1@yahoo.com for arrangement. Interested to buy in bulk….

    Thank you.

    Jan 14, 2010 | 7:31 am


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