Bay Prawn

Metapenaeus bennettae (Greentail Prawn)
Metapenaeus insolitus (Greasyback Prawn)

Other names: Emerald shrimp, greasyback bay prawn, greentail shrimp, inshore greasyback prawn, greasyback prawn.

Family: Penaeidae (penaeid prawns).

Description:

Available wild-caught, these are marine, estuarine and freshwater Prawns, with juveniles found as far as 35km inland, larger juveniles usually found in shallow mangroves near the coast and adults commonly in coastal waters to depths of 35m, preferring muddy bottoms, but also found over sand. Greentails are found along Australia’s eastern seaboard, from Sale, Victoria, north to Rockhampton, Queensland, and mostly trawled at night from Brisbane River and Moreton Bay, Queensland. Greasybacks are found from the Gulf of Carpentaria west to Joseph Bonaparte Gulf (near the NT-WA border), and are caught mostly near Darwin. They have a translucent brown to green body with dark brown speckling and green tips on the tail fan; fine hairs on the abdomen often give a ‘greasy’ feel, leading to some of the common names.

Season: Available year round peaking in spring and summer.

Size and Weight: Average 8g and 7cm, but can grow to 13cm.

Price: Low priced.

Relations:

Other Metapenaeus species, including Endeavour Prawns and School Prawns. All Metapenaeus can be sold as School Prawns.

To Buy:

Look for brightly coloured, firm, intact, lustrous shells, without any discolouration, particularly at joints, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. Prawns are highly perishable in their raw state and so are often frozen or boiled at sea as soon as they are caught. If cooking with Prawns, buy green (raw) Prawns, as cooked Prawns will toughen if reheated.

To Store:

Leave Prawns in their shells until just before using and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC. Once thawed, frozen Prawns should not be refrozen.

To Cook:

Average yield is 45%. Generally sweeter than larger Prawns, Bay Prawns have a mild, sweet flavour, low-medium oiliness and moist, firm flesh. Flesh is translucent when raw and white with pinkish bands when cooked. After removing the head from a fresh green Prawn, hold the Prawn straight and gently pull the end of the digestive tract (from the head end), it will usually come out in one go. If it breaks off, use a thin skewer to hook it out from the back, or make a small incision along the back and remove it. In cooked Prawns, cut the back open to remove the digestive tract. Very small Prawns can be eaten whole, shell and all.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, grill, barbecue. Bay Prawns are most often boiled. The firm flesh holds together well in soups and curries. Like all seafood, Prawns require very little cooking. It is always better to undercook, rather than overcook, them, as they will continue to cook in the residual heat once they are removed from the pan. Cooked Prawns are good in salads and sandwiches, or eaten cold with a dipping sauce, but don’t use them in a cooked dish, as reheating will make them tough.

Goes well with:

Butter, chilli, garlic, ginger, herbs, lemon, lime, mayonnaise, olive oil, salad greens, soy sauce, tomato.

Alternatives:

Other Prawns, Bugs, Marron, Redclaw, Rocklobsters, Yabby.

Imports:

Bay Prawns aren’t imported. Vannamei Prawns (Litopenaeus vannamei) from South East Asia and Paradise Prawns (Litopenaeus Stylirostris) from the South Pacific are 2 of the most common imported prawns.

Recipes:

Deep-Fried Chilli Salt School Prawns >
Potted Prawns >
Prawn-filled Eggs >