Obviously freshest is always best (straight from the fisherman’s boat!) but many of us purchase prawns sold in seafood markets and supermarkets, where prawns have been frozen and then re-thawed for sale.
Here are some easy tips on how to choose them fresh:
- Buy prawns with firm complete shells and firmly attached heads.
- The eyes should not be shrunken inwards or missing.
- Fresh prawns should smell slightly salty, like sea water. Avoid ones that smell of ammonia as an "off" smell is caused by bacteria and can cause food poisoning.
- There should be no discolouration across the head and body of the prawn.No black spots on shell.
- Flesh should be translucent (white and slightly transparent) or bluish grey in colour and shiny. Avoid pink meat as prawns only turn coral/pink once cooked.
- Steer clear of prawns that have been shelled as they end up being rubbery and tough. Cooking them in their shells helps to retain the flavour and juices.
- Once purchased, store in freezer as soon as possible.
- Raw prawns can be frozen in an airtight container with shell or without, but the heads should be removed.
- To store prawns whole (without removal of heads/shell) just slip them into a ‘mega’ drink bottle, fill with water, seal and freeze. You can ‘bottle freeze’ them portion wise too for easy access. (250g, 500g etc.)