Prawn-og­ra­phy laws

Townsville Bulletin - - The Good Life -

PRAWNS would rate as the favourite food for many Aus­tralians. If they don’t ap­pear on the Christ­mas ta­ble, it’s a fair bet they will fea­ture in the hol­i­day weeks that fol­low. We each eat about 2.5kg ev­ery year, but more than half are im­ported. This Christ­mas, for the first time, it will be easy to choose home-grown.

New laws mean all seafood has to in­di­cate its coun­try of ori­gin.

‘‘We have no­ticed im­proved sales since the law came in,’’ says ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Aus­tralian Prawn Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, Scott Wal­ter.

‘‘I think a lot of con­sumers are now able to make a de­ci­sion.’’


To­gether, Aus­tralians eat about 50,000 tonnes of prawns an­nu­ally.

Of th­ese, 30,000 tonnes are im­ported, 15,000 tonnes are wild­caught in Aus­tralian wa­ters and 5000 tonnes are farmed. Al­most all im­ported prawns have been frozen. Most come from Viet­nam, China, Thai­land and In­done­sia.


Prawns are crus­taceans and all Aus­tralian va­ri­eties be­long to one de­ca­pod fam­ily, known as pe­naei­dae. About 16 of the 70 prawn species found around Aus­tralia are sold on the floor at the Syd­ney Fish Mar­ket.

Most lo­cal prawns are caught by trawlers in trop­i­cal wa­ters.

There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween shrimps and prawns (shrimps are from the caridean fam­ily). How­ever, what Amer­i­cans call shrimps, we call prawns. We do pro­duce shrimps but none is ed­i­ble.


Prawn farm­ing was es­tab­lished in the late 1980s. To­day, there are about 30 farms, mostly based in North Queens­land. They fo­cus on two va­ri­eties — tiger prawns and ba­nana prawns.

We used to grow ku­ruma for live ex­port to Ja­pan but that mar­ket has largely dis­ap­peared and al­most none is now grown. Tiger and ba­nana prawns each grow nat­u­rally in Aus­tralian wa­ters. In farm­ing, the breed­ing pop­u­la­tion for tiger prawns are caught off In­n­is­fail.

‘‘They are bet­ter than other species as they grow quickly and are less af­fected by dis­ease,’’ says Wal­ter. ‘‘The in­dus­try was grow­ing quickly un­til about two or three years ago when there was a large in­crease in im­ports. Since then, it’s slowed a bit but we are still ex­pect­ing sig­nif­i­cant growth.’’


Green prawns are raw. They are per­fect for cook­ing on the bar­be­cue or boil­ing in salty wa­ter. In both cases, they are cooked when they turn pink. Sweet tast­ing and lightly coloured, Crys­tal Bay prawns are a com­mer­cial brand which come from the Hinch­in­brook re­gion of Queens­land. It’s the only Aus­tralian farm able to sup­ply fresh chilled, cooked and un­cooked prawns ev­ery week of the year. Farmed tiger prawns are mostly sold fresh cooked and have a deep orange colour. Wild tiger prawns are lighter in colour and tend to have a higher price.


The prawn’s in­testi­nal tract runs along its back and the rec­om­men­da­tion is to re­move (or de- vein) it. Once shelled, a re­ally sim­ple way to do this is to take a bam­boo skewer, slip the tip be­neath the vein in the cen­tre of the prawn’s body, then lift out the vein.


1 tbs fish sauce 1 tbs palm sugar 3 tbs lime juice 1 tbs lemon­grass, finely chopped 2 es­chalots, finely sliced 3 small red chill­ies, de­seeded and finely chopped 700g large cooked king or tiger prawns 1 red cap­sicum, seeded 2 small cu­cum­bers, seeded and finely sliced ¼ cup mint leaves 1 cup wa­ter­cress sprigs 2 tbs roasted, un­salted peanuts, finely chopped


Mix the fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, lemon­grass, es­chalots and chill­ies in a large bowl. Al­low to stand. Peel and de-vein the prawns, leav­ing the tail sec­tion in­tact. Add the prawns to the dress­ing. Cut the cap­sicum into chunks and add to the dress­ing with cu­cum­ber, mint, wa­ter­cress and two-thirds of the peanuts. Toss the salad. Ar­range on serv­ing plates or plat­ter and sprin­kle with the re­main­ing peanuts. Serves six as a starter.

Recipe by Fish­line, Syd­ney Fish Mar­ket

Chilli Prawn Salad

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