How to Peel & Devein a Prawn

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Using fresh foods is one of the benefits of living in a rich and vibrant ecosystem. Prawns are especially tasty when they can be incorporated into meals without the lengthy processing and transport associated with distant sources. Sourcing fresh, local prawns – like direct from our vendors online at Butcherman – not only offers you and your family a greater abundance of key nutrients, they simply taste better.

Don’t be intimidated by this process of peeling and preparing to eat. In the article below, we’ll guide you through the act of dressing your prawns. Soon, you’ll be a professional!

A Bit About Prawns

Unlike shrimp, prawns have a branching gill structure. They’re also related to crabs and lobsters, which belong to a different animal family, separate from the shrimp species. These wonderful crustaceans prefer to live in shallow, tropical waters, and favour protected areas where the currents are mild. While some species of prawn do live in the Northern Hemisphere, they are largely found in equatorial and southern hemisphere biomes.

The prawn is a relatively simple organism, which will come in handy when you’re dressing either cooked or raw prawns. Mainly, what you want to remove are the legs, carapace, and the central digestive tract or vein that runs close to the dorsal or top surface of the prawn. Depending on the ultimate culinary intent, you’ll remove the head, but may elect to leave the tail attached. It makes a great handle if finger foods are the theme of your meal.

How To & In Detail

While it may seem a bit gruesome, you don’t need anything sharp to remove the head and tail of either a raw or cooked prawn. Simply take a firm hold of the head and twist in order to detach it. You can pinch and pull the tail to remove it, if you so desire. However, as we mentioned above, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the tail intact if you’re serving finger foods.

Hold the prawn in your hand on its side, with the legs facing you. In order to remove the legs and carapace or shell, pinch the legs between your thumb and forefinger. This will allow you to detach the shell from beneath. Then, peel up and away from yourself, detaching the shell from the rest of the body. You can repeat this process as many times as needed to remove all of the shell.

Deveining prawns can be done in two ways, depending on your cooking needs. The simplest way to do this is to make a shallow incision along the dorsal surface with a sharp paring knife. Then, gently lift the vein or tract out of the prawn and discard it. However, this compromises the shape of the prawn. If you’re intent upon using uncut prawns for your recipe, there’s a relatively simple method for removing the vein without cutting.

After you’ve removed the head from the prawn, have a bamboo skewer on hand. At the base of the head, the digestive tract will protrude slightly. Simply use the tip of the skewer to secure this and gently pull until the entire tract comes free from the prawn. Repeat with each crustacean. Now, you have beautiful, deveined prawns, and are ready to start cooking.

Seasonal Favourites & Year-Round Treats

Many people associate prawns with summer barbecue parties. While they’re versatile and can be prepared in many different ways using this technique, prawns are excellent in other dishes. They can be sautéed and either play a starring role or support a cast of many flavours in dishes like paella or bouillabaisse. They are delectable when roasted, and may serve as a tasty main course support for winter vegetables or casseroles.

We hope that this instructional article will serve you well, and encourage you to include prawns in your gustatory life more often. Half the battle of peeling a prawn is knowing where to start and what result you’re hoping to accomplish. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize there’s nothing to it.

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