B.C. recipes: Learn how to make chef Hidekazu Tojo’s B.C. Spot Prawn Onigara Yaki

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      Among the most celebrated names in Vancouver’s culinary realm is Hidekazu Tojo.

      The acclaimed chef has contributed to renown for the artistry of Japanese cuisine in the city.

      With indoor dining restrictions lifted, Tojo’s Restaurant just reopened its dining room yesterday (May 28) to welcome guests back.

      The timing is perfect as we’re in the midst of B.C. spot prawn season, which Tojo says "symbolize the bounty and beauty of spring".

      Diners can now order prepared spot prawn sashimi and spot prawn dishes in Tojo's seasonal omakase offerings at the restaurant. 

      For over a decade, Tojo has purchased his B.C. spot prawns from local fisherman Stewart McDonald, who sells his catch at False Creek’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

      In the video below, Tojo visits McDonald and talks about spot prawns.


      For those who would prefer to eat outdoors, Tojo’s is offering Tojo’s Spot Prawn Kit ($88) for two includes: a half-pound of B.C. spot prawns; vegetable chirashi; and seasonal gommae.

      Another way to enjoy spot prawns is with onigari yaki, which is the Japanese technique for butterflying prawns and lobsters for grilling. (The word oni means demon in Japanese as the crustaceans resemble the horned creatures from Japanese mythology.)

      Tojo-sama is now presenting one more generous option: home cooks can try their hand at using his method for grilling spot prawns.

      Local fisherman Stewart McDonald with chef Hidekazu Tojo at False Creek’s Fisherman’s Wharf
      Tojo's Restaurant

      Tojo’s B.C. Spot Prawn Onigara Yaki

      Yield: serves two

      1/2 lb live spot prawns
      1 tbsp olive oil
      salt and pepper 

      microgreens, cilantro or spring onions
      1/2 lemon

      1 tbsp mirin
      1 tbsp soy sauce
      1 tbsp water
      1 tsp chili sauce (such as sambal oelek)
      1 tsp minced garlic


      Butterfly prawns:
      With prawn belly-side up, cut through middle lengthwise from underneath the head to the tail.
      Then, cut from underneath the head to the top of the head. Be sure to cut through the meat but not the shell. 
      Open up the prawn carefully.
      Lightly season the meat side of the prawns with salt and pepper.

      Combine drizzle ingredients together in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.

      Heat up oil in skillet at medium heat, for approximately 45 seconds, just before the smoke point.  
      Place butterflied prawns meat-side down.
      Grill for approximately 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, until meat is no longer translucent, and lightly browned. Do not overcook.
      Flip over to the shell side.
      Pour drizzle over prawns and reduce, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Squeeze lemon juice over the prawns.

      Plate prawns onto a serving dish.
      Place garnish on top, and spoon extra drizzle sauce over prawns and serve.

      Tojo's Restaurant
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.