Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Farming Giant River Prawns In Thailand

Giant river prawns in a holding tank at a family farm in Amphawa
Macrobrachium rosenbergii may well be my favorite seafood dish when I'm in Thailand, but in reality it's not truly a sea creature at all - it's a freshwater shrimp.  Better known as giant river prawns to most visitors reading menus in Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and other Asian countries it prefers to begin life in brackish water, but grows to the fine size it does in fresh water; most recently in enormous commercial farms.

If you have an Asian supermarket in your area you may find them in the freezer case. What you'll find can't hold a candle to the ones just out of the water a few minutes before they're on your table, but still good, I've found.

When he was younger the man who runs the resort I stayed at in Amphawa was a fisherman, both along the Mae Klong river and into the Gulf of Thailand; but as age and physical limitations got the best of him he put his time and resources into building the Ban Kung Maenam home stay. Not able to completely let go of his roots he still keeps a hand in by hatching and raising the shrimp, and stocking the kitchen with fish and shellfish. Often it's his employees who are sent out in the boats, but he said he likes to get away from things and go out on the water himself as time allows.

The farming tanks for the shrimp are large, shallow affairs; maybe 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.5M) square, and around a foot and a half deep. I stopped to watch them moving around in them a couple of times while I was exploring the areas off behind the kitchen and bungalows, but frankly I preferred to see them mixed into my breakfast stew.  This rice soup was flavored by the shrimp boiled to make the stock, and decorated with four to six delicious prawns. It was the standard fare for breakfast at the resort, and I couldn't have asked for anything better.


Was Once said...

Can I follow you on the gourmet trail in Thailand?

khunbaobao said...

You'd be more than welcome, Was Once, but I'm not nearly as adventurous as some of my falang friends... certainly not as much as my Thai friends.