Cuisine Fiend

five spice shrimp with crispy noodles

Fri, 9 February, 2018

five spice prawns

This is different to your usual stir fry: it’s a warm stir fried salad. The crispy noodles are totally optional: you can do soft noodles or no noodles. The combination of vegetables is free as well, as long as you start off with a bed of greens. The crucial players in this game are prawns.

It’s stormy waters with prawns. First off, what are they actually called: prawn or shrimp? Are small prawns shrimp and large shrimp prawns or am I just using the same words here in random order? Is ‘jumbo shrimp’ an oxymoron seeing as ‘shrimp’ refers to a not very large creature at all? Is it only the usual word battle between UK and US?

Secondly, there’s wild and farmed. Undisputedly the wild ones should be tastier but their sustainability is a serious issue: wild ones are caught by appalling methods like bottom trawling which destroys the ocean bed and is indiscriminate for the by-catch. Farmed, especially the nice fat tigers and kings, are often produced in such horrific conditions that would put you off prawn cocktail for life.

five spice shrimp

That’s the third issue then: the big fat ones, the jumbo king tigers are warm water prawns. If farmed or caught organically, they are blindingly expensive. If cheap – they are trash and farming them trashes the marine environment.

What to do? I’ve been trawling (not bottom) various fishery websites, MCS and press articles and I’m actually not much the wiser. It transpires that the smaller North Atlantic prawns SEEM to be the ocean-friendly option, as long as they come from organically certified fisheries or farms – but it’s by no means crystal clear. The ones frozen on boat will be fresher, too, all things considered. So it looks like eating local (for us in UK) proves to be the rule of thumb again.

chinese five spice prawns with greens

Which means that the salad below will not look as impressive as it would if featuring the giant prawns – but it will taste better. On all accounts.

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