Descriptions, sources, and eco-factors for the West's tastiest sustainable seafoods
Spot prawns (pictured)
Taste Sweet, firm, and lobsterlike, with a white spot on either side of their tails. These babies can reach 12 or more inches in the wild but average about 4. In sushi restaurants, they're called ama-ebi.
Source Pacific Ocean, San Diego to Unalaska, Alaska. Limited supply; for more routinely available shrimp, try Oregon pink shrimp (below).
Eco factor Spot prawns are fished using bycatch-excluding devices, and regulations prevent fishing in many easy-to-damage reef areas.
How to choose Spot prawns may be sold fresh or frozen, with or without the heads and bright red roe attached to their underbellies. Some specialty and Asian markets sell live spot prawns in tanks. Select prawns that smell fresh, like the sea, and have few or no black spots.
How to prepare Cook spot prawns whole, or shelled and deveined. To shell, cut along the back shell with kitchen scissors to the tail, then pull off shell and legs, reserving any roe. Devein by cutting a slit along back, then removing the vein with the tip of a paring knife and rinsing the groove clean.
Oregon pink shrimp (not pictured)
Taste Tiny, succulent, and incredibly sweet; you'll never go back to ordinary "cocktail shrimp" once you've tried these. Since they're so delicate and perishable, the vast majority are sold frozen.
Source Oregon coast.
Eco factor They grow quickly and reproduce prolifically ― restocking themselves, so to speak. The nets used have escape hatches, so other species aren't trapped.
How to choose Select fresh or frozen shrimp with a sweet, mild aroma. Either way, they always come cooked and shelled. Use them in any recipe calling for small shrimp such as salad shrimp.