The last time I was in California, for Christmas, it was the height of Dungeness Crab season. This time, in mid-May, it’s the height of Spot Prawn season. Prized for their sweet flesh, spot prawns claim pride of place on menus like that of Providence in LA and Coi in San Francisco. In fact, the bulk of commercially caught spot prawns go directly to restaurant kitchens. So when I saw them in a tank at a local Asian market (“WILD SANTA BARBARA SPOT PRAWNS”), I felt a rush of adrenaline. This, dear readers, is how Mr. Alpenglow gets his high. I served them for lunch — grilled for two minutes with olive oil, seasoned with a little salt, and served with lemon.
GRILLED SANTA BARBARA SPOT PRAWNS
olive oil, sea salt, lemon
If available, buy a dozen live spot prawns. The sooner you serve them, the better they will be. Heat a charcoal grill or stove-top griddle until it is very hot. Use a sharp knife to split each shrimp down the middle, leaving the head attached. Drizzle the shrimp with olive oil. Place the shrimp on the grill, sliced side down, and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. With your hand high above the shrimp, season very conservatively with sea salt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. I recommend eating the tail first, then sucking the juices from the shrimp’s head.