by August Bramhoff
VANCOUVER – Picture it. Vancouver Island, circa 1992. A young mother and her two children stir restlessly in their rented cabin near a cove, while spring rain pours like nails falling on a tin roof. Around two in the afternoon, the first of the harvesters arrive, weighing and sorting their catch. In gumboots and carrying umbrellas, the small family walks down to the dock, curious to see what is on board. For a few dollars, the freshest, most succulent prawns become centerplate on a humble lunch table.
Perhaps you can’t relive the above moment; however, don’t let the next closest thing pass you by. The Spot Prawn Festival at False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf boasts a cornucopia of delicious spot prawns — a seasonal favourite in both British Columbia and Asia.
For those not in the know, a spot prawn is quite different from your average run-of-the-mill prawn. Wild BC spot prawns, identifiable for their rusty colouring and white spotted tails, turn pink when they are cooked and have a sweet flavour. The harvest season begins in May and can last for eight weeks.
With a limited number of weeks to enjoy this ocean treat, eight BC chefs, including the Fairmont Whistler’s Chef Isabel Chung and West Restaurant’s Chef Quang Dang, will be at this year’s festival showcasing and demoing new dishes that feature spot prawns. If cooking at home is not your style, then make sure to leave room for the main festival event, the Spot Prawn Boil, which sells out every year. With prawns literally from the sea to the pot, and libations courtesy of Evolve Cellars and R&B Brewery, it’s not hard to see why.
And, importantly, rest assured that this event is earth-conscious. The BC Spot Prawn Festival has partnered up with OceanWise to ensure sustainable practices. “We are incorporating seafood sustainability at the Spot Prawn Festival,” says Chef Céline Turenne, the executive director of the Chef’s Table Society, a not-for-profit organization that has now hosted the Spot Prawn Festival for 11 years. “Wild, trap-caught, BC spot prawns are a ‘best choice’ option based on the five sustainability criteria used for BC fisheries assessments.”
Spot Prawn Festival takes place on May 13 at False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf. Purchase tickets for the Spot Prawn Boil on their website. All proceeds of ticket sales benefit the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia.False Creek, fisherman's wharf, prawn festival, sea food