King Prawn

Melicertus latisulcatus (Western King Prawn)
Melicertus plebejus (Eastern King Prawn)
Melicertus longistylus (Redspot King Prawn)

King Prawn
Species

Prawns

Description

Have a cream to light brown body, with legs and tailfin a distinctive bright blue in the Western and cream in the Eastern. Redspot has a distinctive red spot on each side of the body shell.

Available wild-caught, these are marine and estuarine-dwelling Prawns, with adults found offshore on a range of bottoms (rock, sand, mud and gravel) to depths of over 220m, and juveniles preferring estuaries or shallow coastal waters.

Western have the widest distribution, found around the Australian coast except for NSW, Victoria and Tasmania and mainly trawled at night off SA and WA, but also off NT and Queensland.

Eastern are found from Bass Strait east to Rockhampton and are an important fishery off Queensland and NSW, and to a lesser extent Victoria.

Redspot are found around the northern Australian coast from Rockhampton to Shark Bay, WA, usually near coral reefs, and are trawled at night, mainly along Queensland’s eastern coast as far north as Cape York.

Other Names

Blueleg Prawn, Eastern Prawn, Ocean King Prawn, Sand Prawn (Eastern), Western Prawn (Western), Red Spotted Prawn (Redspot).

Family

Penaeidae (Penaeid Prawns).

Season

Available year round with peaks from February to June. The NT fishery is closed from December to March and again in July.

Size and Weight

Commonly 40-50g and 10-21cm body length, with Eastern the largest and Redspot the smallest. Eastern can grow to 30cm.

Price

High priced, with larger prawns fetching the highest prices and Western and Redspot generally cheaper than Eastern.

Relations

Other Penaeidae Prawns, such as Banana and Tiger 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%. Has a rich flavour, low-medium oiliness moist flesh with a medium-firm texture. 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.

In cooked Prawns, cut the back open to remove the digestive tract.

Cooking Methods

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, grill, barbecue. The firm flesh holds together well in soups and curries and threaded on skewers for kebabs.

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. King Prawns have a particular tendency to become tough if not handled correctly.

Goes Well With

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

Alternatives

Other Prawns, Bugs, Marron, Redclaw, Rock Lobsters, Yabby.

Imports

Similar species are imported, mainly from South East Asia. Vannamei Prawns (Litopenaeus vannamei) and Paradise Prawns (Litopenaeus stylirostris) are two of the most common imported prawns.

Recipes

Barbecued Chermoula Prawns with Chickpea Salad
Barbecued Coriander & Pepper Prawns
Easy Prawn Ravioli with Citrus Dressing
Laksa Lemak (Spicy Noodle Soup)
Potted Prawns
Prawn & Avocado Tacos
Prawn Bisque
Prawn Cocktail
Prawn Fried Rice
Prawn Salad with Chilli, Cucumber & Watercress
Prawn San Choy Bow
Prawn Sushi Cake
Prawn Toast
Prawns with Mango & Chilli Dipping Sauce
Prawns with Zucchini, Tomato & Mint Salsa
Satay Udang (Prawn Satay)
Steamed Prawn Dumplings
Steamed Tiger Prawns with Chinese Rice Wine, Ginger & Green Onions
Stir-fried Ginger & Honey Prawns
Stir-fried Prawns & Cucumber in Tamarind Sauce
Stir-Fried Prawns with Red Capsicum & Broccolini
Sugar Cane Prawns
Surf & Turf
Vietnamese Fresh Rice Paper Rolls

Mixed Seafood Dishes
Black Handkerchief Pasta with Seafood & Tomato Sauce
Hot & Sour Seafood Soup (Tom Yum)
Lemony Seafood Crêpes
Linguine ai Frutti di Mare
Mini Seafood Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce
Mixed Tempura
Satay Lilit (Balinese Minced Fish Satay)
Seafood Gumbo
Seafood Hotpot
Seafood Pie with Leek, Garlic & Chives
Seafood Risotto
Spicy Seafood Noodles (Char Kway Teow)
Vietnamese-style Stuffed Squid with Asian Slaw

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