How to clean prawns
Prawns are surprisingly easy to clean and prepare at home once you get the hang of it! There are two main steps, peeling and deveining, which are slightly different depending on whether your prawns are cooked or raw.
What does deveining a prawn mean?
Deveining a prawn means removing the digestive tract, which is the dark line that runs along its back. It can have an unpleasant gritty texture and a muddy flavour, so it’s best to remove it from larger prawns. However, it’s edible and won’t harm you if you don’t remove them.
Also, if you’re using very small prawns it may not be noticeable at all so you can skip the deveining step!
How to peel a prawn
This works for both cooked and uncooked prawns.
1. Grasp the body in one hand and the head in your other. Twist to remove.
2. Peel the shell off starting from the head end. Push your thumb into the underside of the shell, near the legs. Peel the shell off in segments.
3. When you get to the tail, pinch it and gently pull from the body to avoid breaking the flesh.
TIP: You can save the heads and shells to make seafood stock. Fry with a tablespoon of oil until they’re fragrant and change colour, cover with water and boil for 20 minutes. Strain and discard shells, reserving stock for your seafood dishes.
How to clean and devein uncooked prawns
The simplest way to remove the digestive tract on uncooked prawns is to peel the prawn, then use a small sharp knife to cut a shallow slit all the way along the prawn’s back. Pull out the dark coloured digestive tract with your fingers, or use a toothpick or skewer to help.
Alternatively, you can devein the prawn without peeling it or cutting it open. To devein a prawn without peeling it, pull off the head. Find and grasp the top of the digestive tract with thumb and forefinger and pull. There may be a little resistance but the tract should come out in one piece. Now you can cook the prawn as is, or remove the shell if you prefer.
TIP: If you peel the prawn first, it is much harder to devein it without cutting.
How to clean and devein cooked prawns
Peel the prawn. Cut a shallow slit in the back and pull out the digestive tract. Alternatively, pull away the digestive tract with the strip of muscle that runs down the back by grasping from the top and pulling away from the body.
How to cook prawns
Now you have beautifully prepared prawns (and maybe some prawn stock), cook them up in one of these recipes!
Find lots of prawn recipes below, or click here for tips on cooking prawns on the barbeque, in a stir-fry, in the oven and more.