The freshwater shrimp (prawn) is a native of southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.
In recent years Kentucky State University has been conducting research on freshwater prawns as a potential new crop for Kentucky Farmers.
Freshwater prawns are similiar to the shrimp you are used to buying in many ways, but also have unique attributes. Prawns are raised locally so you can buy them fresh. Almost all shrimp you buy in the grocery store are, or have been frozen. At some stores you may even be able to buy live prawns.
Frehwater prawns tails are no fat products, meaning they contain less than .05% fat. What little fat there is is largely highly unsaturated (heart healthy) fat.Freshwater prawns contain less cholesterol than salt water shrimp. The texture of freshwater prawns is, in some ways, more similiar to lobster and preparation and recipies are similiar for both. Prawns are excellent boiled Grilling is especially good. If grilling you need to leave the shells on or marinate or baste the tails, since they contain so little fat this will keep them from getting dry. They are also excellent sauteed or broiled.
Preparation and Storage
As with all shellfish, it is important to keep them COLD. Packed in ice that is able to drain away the water as it melts is ideal. If live or whole, remove the heads as soon as possible. The digestive juices in the head can cause the tailmeat to become "mushy". The heads are prized by chefs and serious cooks for preparation of seafood and shrimp stocks. Whole shrimp can be kept on ice up to 5-10 days and refrigerated 4-8 days. Shrimp tails can be kept on ice up to 10 days and frozen up to 6 months. When thawing frozen shrimp tails it is important they not be frozen at room temperature. Begin cooking when they are still firm with ice crystals. When freezing be sure there is at least a thin layer of water over them as they are put into the freezer. This will "vacuum pack" the tails in water if done correctly.
Prawns are delicious cooked with the heads on. The natural juices are preserved and the delicate flavor of the prawn may be enjoyed most fully when they are prepared in this method. For attractive serving you may wish to trim the antennae and front claws, but it is not necessary.
Prawns may be cooked in the shell or shelled. Experience through testing indicates that the meat stays slightly more firm when cooked in-shell. Like any freshwater seafood, prawns should only served cooked.
To remove the shell before or after cooking, either snip the shells down the back or grasp the bottom edge where the shell connects with the legs, and peel. The shell should come off easily in large pieces.
It is best to prepare the prawns as quickly as possible and they should not be allowed to remain in the refrigerator for extended periods of time. If using frozen prawns, thaw rapidly under running water and use immediately. Do not allow them to stand at room temperature for extended periods of time.
Prawns, unlike shrimp, usually do not have a highly visible vein that necessitated cleaning. But if cleaning is desired, snip with kitchen shears down the back of the shell and rinse under cold water.
There are several delicious ways to cook prawns. If boiling prawns, bring the stock or water to a brisk boil before inserting the prawns. From frozen state, cook the prawns for 5 minutes. If thawed, cook 4 minutes. Bake thawed prawns for 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, or broil for 2½ to 3 minutes per side.