They’re eaten all year round, but it’s at this time of year, around Christmas, that prawns really shine. From simple sandwiches made with cooked prawns to a party platter of crispy prawns with dipping sauces, they star in a range of delicious dishes that are perfectly suited to the warmer months.

Prawns are quick and easy to prepare, and with a little know-how, you can enjoy them at their best. This guide has all the essentials you need to know, including the different types, what to look for when shopping, and step-by-step preparation techniques, such as how to butterfly prawns for even quicker cooking (also known as prawn cutlets).

Prawn recipe ideas

  • Buy cooked prawns to make delicate salads
  • Transform green (uncooked) prawns into flavoursome favourites, such as garlic prawns.
  • You can also use peeled prawn meat to make prawn mince, which is great for making Asian-style dumplings, patties and skewers.

Buying prawns

Prawns are sold cooked, raw, and frozen. They may be sold in the shell, or peeled (peeled prawns are referred to as prawn meat). As a general guide, 1kg of prawns in the shell provides about 24 medium to large prawns, which equals about 500g of peeled prawn meat.

Here are the three forms of prawns you’ll find available from the seafood counter, and in the frozen seafood section, at supermarkets.

  • Green prawns
    These are uncooked prawns. They have translucent flesh that changes colour when cooked.
  • Cooked prawns
    These prawns are boiled at sea as soon as they’re caught. The flesh is opaque and pale orange.
  • Frozen prawn meat
    These prawns are peeled before being frozen. You can buy them green or cooked.

Different types of prawns

Not all prawns are the same – they vary in size, appearance and flavour. Here’s a guide to the types and how to use them.