Soy-Preserved Spot Prawns

Yield: 4
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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.

Recipe printed from Kim Sunée:

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