Yesterday we went on a trip to Steveston to show our friend Lee Lefever around, but also to see about getting some spot prawns at the start of the season.
The docks are filled with boats that mainly have frozen at sea fish of various kinds, and there were a lot of shrimp for sale, but no prawns.
Wandering through the rest of Steveston, we found the Steveston Fish Shoppe. It’s clearly run by fishermen, and they have live tanks with prawns, lobsters, crab, and clams. Cash only.

So, we had our bounty of prawns, and a couple of pounds of clams as well. When we got home we snapped the heads off all the prawns (they were still alive, but when they die the meat goes mushy if you don’t take the heads off) and fully de-shelled some of them.
I decided to make a broth from the prawn heads. Lee chopped up a couple of medium onions, I added a couple of cloves of garlic, and two carrots. We put some olive oil in a pot and sautéed until the onions browned slightly, then dumped in the prawn heads and covered in water.
After our big tonkatsu and pho broth making at Easter, I babysat the broth and skimmed scum off the top until no more was coming to the surface and turned down the heat until it was just a slow bubble. The broth cooked for a couple of hours, then we strained out all the heads and vegetables and went over to the Busses.
Now, what to make? The broth turned out tasting delicate and sweet, although it was brown in colour (prawn brain juice?). I didn’t even add salt. I think the carrots likely did a good job in adding sweetness.
Mark and I scrummed and decided to do as follows:
  • Hot prawn broth over the raw, shelled prawns
  • Prawn tails cooked with Kazu, served over saffron rice
  • Roasted cauliflower & chickpea salad
  • Linguine alle Vongole (clams)
We didn’t do anything else to the broth (other than Mark ended up doing a second strain of the broth through cheesecloth to make it even cleaner). We heated it and I chopped up the shelled prawns a bit more, and poured the broth into each bowl. The prawns cooked pretty much instantly, and were sweet and delicious as well.
The prawn tails I made in the pan. I minced a Tablespoon of ginger and two cloves of garlic and sautéed in olive oil, then added one thinly sliced medium onion.
Kazu is the byproduct of making sake (the lees) and is sort of fermented / sort of alcohol-y. Here's a picture from Wikipedia (which doesn't really have much to say about kazu):

Rather than going in a strongly Japanese direction (e.g. adding miso paste as well), I blended in some lemon grass paste and a little hot sauce in with the kazu. I added this to the sautéed onions, garlic, and ginger and added water to thin it. We added two big knobs of butter (1/2 cup total), some prawn broth, and then put in the prawn tails on high heat and covered. We cooked for perhaps two minutes, then took it off the heat and let it cook a bit further covered, then plated over the saffron rice.
Andrea made the salad, which had a dressing with meyer lemon and apple cider vinegar and was very tasty.
Mark will have to write up his own vongole recipe - it was made with fresh linguine and was also delicious.