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Popularity of Prawns
Figures show prawns are set to overtake the traditional favorites after a string of endorsements from celebrity chefs. One of the reasons for the growing popularity of the prawns among the middle class as well elite consumers - because they are more unusual and also a light and healthy option. And the other reason for why they have become so fashionable is because they are quick and easy to cook. Prawns are extremely versatile and, in addition to being used in sandwiches and salads, they can offer good value in main meals.

What are Prawns?
Prawns refer to any of the numerous esculent crustaceans identical to but much bigger than the
shrimps. The prawns are affiliated to the sub-order of Dendrobranchiata and are part of the lobster family.

The meat has a sweet, subtle taste that some claim is better than either lobster or shrimp. Prawns are 6 to 8 inches in length and have pale-red bodies deepening to dark-red tails.

Etymological Background
The word 'prawn' in Middle English is recorded as prayne or prane and no cognate form has been found in any other language. It is though often been related to the Latin perna a ham-shaped shellfish, but this is due to an old scholarly error that connected perna and parnocchie with prawne-fishes or shrimps. In fact, originally the Italian perna and pernocchia meant a shellfish that yielded nacre, or mother-of-pearl.

Dispelling the Cholesterol Myth About Prawns
Many consumers are confused about the cholesterol levels in prawns and as a result limit their intake of prawns. Cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin. Liver, egg yolk and shellfish are the

major sources of dietary cholesterol. However, cholesterol levels in people are affected more by the amount and type of fat in the diet than the amount of dietary cholesterol. A high intake of saturates and fat of all types can increase the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver. This can lead to higher levels in the blood and increase the risk of heart disease. Prawns are naturally low in saturated fat, and 100g contains only 0.2g.

Prawns also have a very low calorific content compared to other proteins. For example, there are only 99kcalories per 100g, in contrast to others such as beef mince, which contains 209kcal and 13.5g of fat and grilled sausages, which contain 294kcal and over 22g of fat. Prawns are even lower in calories and fat than chicken.

And prawns contain a number of essential nutrients such as magnesium, which plays a role in bone development and nerve and muscle function, zinc, which is good for growing bodies, and selenium, an important antioxidant.

Popular Prawn Recipes
Prawns are widely available as fresh or in frozen packs. One must always allow a reasonable defrosting time; never defrost quickly in water. The best method is to sprinkle the prawns lightly with salt and then to defrost them on a plate overnight in a refrigerator. Both shell-on and peeled prawns are used in a great many recipes for cooked and cold dishes, and garnishes.

Spaghetti with Prawns

  • Ingredients
    • 350g dried spaghetti
    • 450g small vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 2 medium-hot red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
    • 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
    • 450g cooked and peeled king prawns
    • 20g fresh flatleaf parsley leaves, chopped.
  • Method:
    • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook
    • Meanwhile, working over the sink, gently squeeze and burst the tomatoes to rid them of most of their seeds, then roughly chop
    • Shortly before the spaghetti is ready, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and red chillies and sizzle gently for 1 minute. Add the spring onions and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes and cook gently for 30 seconds, until just heated through but still holding their shape. Season to taste with salt and pepper
    • Drain the spaghetti well and return to the pan. Add the tomato mixture, prawns and chopped parsley. Toss together and serve.
Potato and Prawn Curry
  • Ingredients
    • 1 tbsp ground cumin
    • 1 tbsp ground coriander
    • 2 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 tbsp (1 oz) 25 g butter
    • 4 oz (100 g) creamed coconut block
    • 1 1/4 cups (10 fl oz) 300 ml hot water
    • 110 g (4 oz) new potatoes, cooked and diced
    • 1 lb (450 g) prawns, peeled.
  • Method
    • Mix all the spices with the wine vinegar
    • Heat the oil and butter in a deep frying pan and gently cook the onion until golden brown
    • Stir in the spice mixture and crushed garlic and continue to cook for about 5 minutes
    • Dissolve the creamed coconut in the hot water and, when dissolved, pour over the onion and spice mixture, stirring well, then allow to simmer for 10 minutes
    • Add the potatoes to the sauce, then carefully stir in the prawns and heat through
    • Season to taste
    • Serve with plain boiled rice.
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