Santa Barbara Spot Prawns

October 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

What is the difference between a prawn and a shrimp? This is the question many people ask me when I tell them about spot prawns. The terms prawn and shrimp are generally interchangeable. There are some differences in body structure, but to a non-crustacean connoisseur, they look pretty much the same. A spot prawn is the largest out of 7 types of shrimp species harvested along the west coast of the US and Canada. One particular harvesting destination for spot prawns is the Santa Barbara channel. That is why these are Santa Barbara Spot Prawns!

Spot prawns are known for their sweet and firm texture. I paired the prawns with a lightly flavored lemon butter linguine. I wanted the dish to focus on the delicate flavor of the spot prawns and not be overpowered by a heavy sauce.

How to Clean and Peel Spot Prawns:

The shells of Spot Prawns are sharp, be careful and work slowly. Some prawns have red egg sacs underneath, these can be removed when peeling.

Twist off the head or cut it off with a sharp knife and discard.

Peeling the legs back, remove the shell and discard. If there is an egg sac, peel it off with the shell. Leave the tail on.

Sometimes there is a visible dark vein running down the back of the prawn. Remove this will a sharp pairing knife.



  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or olive oil
  • 12 fresh Santa Barbara spot prawns, cleaned and peeled (See how to clean in post)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a large sauce pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, add the grape seed or olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat over medium high heat. With a paper towel, pat the prawns dry and season with salt and pepper. When the oil is first starting to smoke, sear the prawns on each side, about 1 minute each side. Remove the prawns and keep warm. Take the sauté pan off of the heat and add the wine. Return the sauté pan to the heat and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Let the wine reduce to about half. Add 1 tablespoon butter and the garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add one cup pasta water and cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat, add 1 tablespoon butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the drained pasta and the prawns to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce. Serve immediately.
Serves 4

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