Soy-Preserved Spot Prawns






soy-preserved prawns in marinade Day 2

soy-preserved prawns in marinade Day 2

Soy-Preserved Spot Prawns

Yield: 4
Print Recipe

This recipe was inspired by Korean soy-preserved blue crabs, aka Gaejang.  Gaejang is an addictive spring delicacy that I had the honor of tasting in Seoul during a return visit.  The crabs are preserved in a marinade that has been strained, boiled, and cooled every 24 hours for 3 to 5 days.  Straining and boiling multiple times helps to remove harmful bacteria.  If you're skeptical, just know that I prepared this with my good friend, Seung-Hee, food lover/accomplished eater, as well as nutritionist and public health specialist with the CDC. 

We made this recently with fresh raw Prince William Sound spot prawns just a few hours out of the water.  Firmer in texture than crab, which becomes more like a briny beautiful sea-jelly, you could also use wild shrimp or tiger prawns. As for serving, this dish is also known as "rice thief"; the soy sauce marinade elicits cries for lots of accompanying rice.  Seung-Hee also suggests soft-boiled eggs and roasted seaweed.  I like something green and bite-y, like green onion, micro-greens, or pea shoots or arugula to offset the richness.  The whole meal is a hands-on eating frenzy that ends in very happy and satisfied mouths. 


  • 2 cups low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup brow sugar
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1 whole apple, quartered and seeded, discarding stem and seeds
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 lemon, cut in half; juice of one half
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 2 dry red chiles
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions, trimmed

For the Prawns:

    • 1 pound large fresh raw shell-on spot prawns or wild shrimp, trimmed and rinsed
    • 1 yellow or white onion, halved and thinly sliced
    • 2 jalapeños, stems removed, thinly sliced


    1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil; let boil for 15 minutes.  Strain liquid, discarding solids,  into a bowl.  Let marinade cool to room temperature; chill in refrigerator or use an ice bath until marinade is cool enough to add to the raw prawns. 
    2. Trim prawns, using scissors.  Place thinly sliced onion and jalapeño slices in a single layer in a large container with lid.  Add prawns in a single layer over onion; pour chilled marinade over prawns.  Cover and place in refrigerator for 24 hours. 
    3. Remove container from refrigerator.  Strain marinade through a fine mesh sieve and into a pot.  Place prawns back in refrigerator.  Heat marinade and let boil for 5 minutes.  Chill completely and pour marinade over prawns; place container back in refrigerator.  Repeat every 24 hours for two more days.

    To Serve:

    Place prawns on a shallow serving platter and pour marinade over; top with onion and jalapeño slices.  Serve with steamed rice, roasted seaweed (kim nori); soft-boiled eggs; and pea shoots, micro greens, or thinly sliced green onion.

    soy-preserved prawns day 2. Photo Kim Sunée
     Photo Kim Sunée

    Date Published: June 22, 2015

    All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

9 comments... read them below or add one


  1. October 26, 2015 4:35 pm by Mike Reply

    Is there any issue with the spotted prawn’s enzyme melting the meat? I know that is the main problem with these raw shrimps if they are dead and left head intact. Would love to make some saeujang with the spotted prawns we get here in Los Angeles. It’s just so expensive. Don’t want to risk throwing $40-50 down the drain.

  2. October 26, 2015 4:51 pm by Seung Hee Reply

    Hi Mike. I understand your concerns about enzymes melting the meat. The right amount of salt can halt those enzyme to work properly and focus on jelly-fying the meat. Also, near religious process of boiling the sauce every 24 hours (doesn’t have to be too strict, but within 18 – 30 hr time frame) for 3 to 5 days help eliminate the ‘enzymes’ to melt the meat. Make sure the raw ingredients are fresh to begin with. You should feel comfortable to eat them raw before preserving them. Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions. Cheers!!!

    -Seung Hee

  3. October 26, 2015 7:24 pm by Mike Reply

    That makes sense! I figured the soy sauce helps stop the emzymes. Just wanted to make sure before I tried this out. I’ve always wanted to try making saeujang but there’s no live/fresh shrimp besides spotted prawns here. Can’t wait to try this one out. Thank you!

    • October 27, 2015 10:22 am by kim Reply

      Hi Mike,

      Where are you located where you have live spot prawns? Please let us know how you like the recipe. I love to squeeze some of the juice from the head onto the rice, wrap a soft egg into the seaweed and eat it all in one lovely bite. Enjoy!

  4. October 27, 2015 11:22 pm by Mike Reply

    Very fortunate to live around Los Angeles, California. I believe we get ours mainly from Santa Barbara and San Diego coast. Every year I see the price go up for them though. At our Asian super markets, they go for about $25-30 a pound. Yes! I love doing that with the blue crab head! I can only imagine it being as delicious with the shrimps! Will try and let you know how it goes!

    btw I’ve also done a salt bake with spot prawns before too! I think they are one of the best ways to enjoy this shrimp! The natural flavor is more enhanced compared to steamed, boiled, or grilled.

    • October 28, 2015 1:58 pm by kim Reply

      I love the uni from Santa Barbara. I actually got some from the SB seafood market. Blue crab is the best, though. As for spot prawns, you might like this recipe as well.

      • October 29, 2015 8:49 am by Mike Reply

        yes!! very fortunate to get live sea urchin from our coast to asian markets. It goes for about $5 each. Way better than packaged. That was the recipe I was relating to. Salt crusted spot prawns are the best!

  5. January 14, 2016 6:45 pm by MLEE Reply

    Hi there, can I use frozen prawns/shrimp for this recipe?

    • January 15, 2016 4:09 pm by kim Reply

      Hi. Thanks for your message. Yes, you can use frozen as long as the prawns were super fresh and don’t have any “fishy” smell once thawed. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *