If you’re lucky, the wild spot prawns you receive from us will be loaded with roe, bejeweling the bellies of female spot prawns with small, translucent pearls in shades of yellow, orange, and amber. Spot prawn roe is a delicacy in the most accessible sense of the word, with an easy-to-like texture and flavor.
It is also incredibly easy to integrate into your wild-caught seafood meals. Edible raw or cooked, spot prawn roe is packed with the sweet, briny taste of the sea. When raw, spot prawn roe releases a pop of flavor when it breaks apart in your mouth. It’s a little sweet, a little salty, and has a subtle unctuousness. When cooked, the spot prawn roe takes on an almost creamy texture, though the individual eggs stay intact.
Harvesting the Roe
Not all spot prawns will be carrying roe — just the females, of course, and only while the prawns are spawning.
To harvest the roe, you’ll need to defrost it along with the spot prawns. Once thawed, the roe (along with the prawns) should be used immediately — don’t wait a day to enjoy this catch, as you want to consume the roe while it’s as fresh as possible.
Removing the roe is easy. Using your fingers, you can carefully pull the roe from the prawns while their shells are still on; it should come off in bunches, clinging to the prawn bellies as a delicate sac of eggs. You’ll want to do this somewhat gently over a bowl to catch any juices that drip down, as you’ll likely be bursting some of the eggs along the way (which is no biggie).
Be mindful of the prawn shells, as they are spiny. We recommend starting at the tail end of the prawns and pulling the roe up the body (in the direction that the prawns’ legs are pointing) to avoid pricking your fingers. Don’t worry about getting every single egg — there’s roe aplenty on each prawn.
Basic Roe Uses
Let no ounce of flavor go to waste! The least you can do to put your spot prawn roe to use is to make a batch of prawn stock from the shells, whatever roe is left clinging to them, and any juices of the roe that you have reserved. This way, you’re extracting every ounce of flavor that the spot prawns have to offer to maximize the flavors in your wild-caught seafood recipes.
Or, rather than simmering the roe, reserve it as a garnish for whatever spot prawn recipe you’re cooking up. The roe will add an appetizing burst of color and a hint of luxury to the dish.
You can even enjoy the roe on its own as an amuse bouche or cook’s treat, adding a pinch of sea salt and squeeze of lemon or lime to give it a lightly composed feel. If you’ve never had spot prawn roe before though, we recommend trying the roe without anything on it first so that you can see what it’s all about, fresh from the sea.
The Dreamy Combo of Roe and Cream
There’s something about crustacean roe that just works really nicely with creamy, buttery ingredients, whether we’re talking spot prawns or lobster or crab roe.
James Beard Award-winning chef Maria Hines uses spot prawn roe to add a seriously seaworthy dimension to a poaching liquid made with cream and butter. The roe is essentially just stirred into the cream, giving it an orange blush. In Hines’s recipe, this poaching liquid is then used to cook shelled spot prawns, which are served with cauliflower puree and chermoula.
But you can adapt this simple approach to any dish that you want to fortify with a sweet, briny flavor profile. In fact, Hines suggests reserving this creamy, roe-infused liquid for another use. Spot prawn pasta with pink sauce, anyone? Or use a roe cream to make this spot prawn risotto from Dan Clapson even more intensely flavored than it already is.
Instead of using cream, you can combine spot prawn roe with milk or half and half to use for something like a spot prawn chowder (ideally, a chowder made with prawn stock), giving a thinner broth some luscious balance. A milky roe mixture could also be used to cook cornmeal for something like spot prawns and grits.
You could also take a cue from this recipe for “coral butter” from Food Network, making it with spot prawn roe for a flecked butter in which to dip poached prawns. Simple, satisfying, and pure.
Don’t let this brief list of ideas limit your imagination; ultimately, spot prawn roe is something you should experiment with in the kitchen with some of the above inspiration in mind. It’s not roe-cket science: Using spot prawn roe will simply make your meals prawnier and allow you to make the most of what the sea has to offer.