Banana Prawns are available both wild-caught and farmed, and they are mostly marine dwelling prawns with juveniles sometimes found in sheltered estuaries and rivers, usually among mangroves. They are found over muddy and sandy bottoms in coastal waters to depths of 90 m (redlegs preferring slightly deeper water than whites). Found around the northern coast of Australia from the NSW-Queensland border to Shark Bay in WA, they are mainly caught by trawlers between Exemouth Gulf, WA and Brisbane, with the bulk of the catch coming from the Gulf of Carpentaria. They are translucent to yellow in colour with tiny dark spots. The 2 species differ in leg colour: whites have cream to yellow legs and redlegs have pink or red legs.
Other names : Indian banana prawn (Redleg), Gulf banana prawn, white prawn (White).
Season: Available year round with peak supply in April. The fishery is closed from December to March and again in July in NT, and from December to February in WA.
Size and Weight: Commonly 20-30g and 14-17cm body length, but can grow to 75g and 25cm. Redlegs are slightly smaller than whites.
Price: Medium priced.
Relations: Other Penaeidae prawns, such as king and tiger prawns.
Buying Banana Prawns : Look for brightly coloured, firm, intact, lustrous shells, without any discolouration, particularly at joints, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. Prawns are highly perishable in their raw state and so are often frozen or boiled at sea as soon as they are caught. If cooking with prawns, buy green (raw) prawns, as cooked prawns will toughen if reheated.
Storing Banana Prawns :
- Leave prawns in their shells until just before using and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC (-0.4°F).
- Once thawed, frozen prawns should not be refrozen.
Cooking Banana Prawns : The average yield is 45%. Has a sweet, mild flavour, low to medium oiliness and moist flesh with a medium texture. Flesh is translucent when raw and white with pinkish bands when cooked. After removing the head from a fresh green prawn, hold the prawn straight and gently pull the end of the digestive tract (from the head end), it will usually come out in one go. If it breaks off, use a thin skewer to hook it out from the back, or make a small incision along the back and remove it. In cooked prawns, cut the back open to remove the digestive tract.
Banana Prawns Cooking Methods:
- Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, grill, barbecue.
- The firm flesh holds together well in soups and curries and threaded on skewers for kebabs.
- Like all seafood, prawns require very little cooking. It is always better to under-cook, rather than overcook, them, as they will continue to cook in the residual heat once they are removed from the pan.
- Banana prawns are most commonly used in hot dishes rather than bought cooked and served cold.
Banana Prawns Go Well With:
- Butter, chilli, garlic, ginger, herbs, lemon, lime, mayonnaise, olive oil, salad greens, soy sauce, tomato.
Banana Prawn Substitutions and Alternatives:
- Other Prawns
- Rock Lobsters
Imports: Frozen tails, with and without shells, are imported from Indonesia, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Myanmar.