When the second annual Steveston Spot Prawn and Seafood Celebration returns this month, locals and visitors will once again flock to Fisherman’s Wharf in the historic shoreline village. Launching on May 16, a friendly fleet of bobbling boats will be waiting, piled high with those much-anticipated B.C. spot prawns plus a full menu of other fresh-catch delicacies.
Like last year, the 2023 event––running until June 18––will also feature tasty happenings in the village and beyond, including Culinary Stage demonstrations and a Dine About promotion with city restaurants serving delicious seafood specialties. But the foundation of the entire event is the rare spotlight it shines on the long-serving B.C. fishing industry.
Head to Fisherman’s Wharf this year and the first boat you’ll see on the right at the bottom of the pedestrian ramp is Just Travlin Too. It’s owned by Steveston Spot Prawns & Seafood, a family-and-friends partnership comprising several generations of West Coast fishing experience. Leading the team’s ever-busy Wharf sales operation is Brianna Stylianou.
“I’ve been fishing for years but this is my fourth time at the dock,” says Stylianou, who loves meeting and greeting seafood fans during the Seafood Celebration and sharing tips and recipes with them. “I especially enjoy seeing the community here and feeling their excitement about the fresh-catch spot prawns.”
Many locals make multiple visits to buy their sweet prawns during the short season, she adds. But it’s the fishers out on the water that work tirelessly to bring those delicious prawns to shore every day. “This year, we have one boat out there fishing 500 traps––and they leave from Steveston at 4 a.m. daily.”
Stylianou’s team, which will be at the Wharf seven days a week during the season, will also be selling Dungeness crab, wild Pacific octopus and frozen black cod this time around. But it’s the spot prawns that always trigger the most excitement, she says. “You have to try them! They are an international delicacy and you will never have a fresher product.”
Chef Robert Clark still feels that heightened excitement, even though he’s worked alongside B.C.’s seafood sector for decades. A pioneering supporter of the region’s sustainable fishing industry, Order of Canada recipient Clark has operated award-winning restaurants, co-hosts popular TV show Your Nation’s Table and is also chief culinary officer at Organic Ocean Seafood.
“B.C has some of the finest, best-managed and most sustainable fishing in the world,” says Clark, adding that events like the Steveston Spot Prawn and Seafood Celebration are a great way to show support for the sector while also meeting some of the “incredibly hardworking” locals behind it.
Clark will be appearing on the Culinary Stage at this year’s event, where he’ll be offering handy hints for first-time spot prawn buyers who might be a little intimated about how to purchase and prepare them. “Most people are used to rubbery tiger prawns, so it’s a revelation when they discover our sweet, succulent B.C. spot prawns.”
Buying from the boats at the Wharf is a no-brainer, he adds. “Buy them fresh and cook them up on the day or freeze them at home right away. If it’s your first time, keep the preparation simple––rip the tails off, lay them in a dish and pour boiling salty water over them. After 30 seconds or a minute, they’ll be ready to peel and eat.”
Local consumers and restaurants have become markedly more sophisticated about their seafood choices in recent years, says Clark. “When I first started, I made it a personal quest to bring high-quality B.C. seafood to my menus. But at that time, the best catches were being exported––thankfully, that has now changed.”
Aside from spot prawns, Clark loves the full gamut of incredible seafood available on the West Coast––although naming his all-time favourites, he says, “is like being asked to choose a favourite child.” When pushed, though, he professes his enduring love for B.C. sablefish and, especially, local salmon.
Back at the Wharf, Stylianou says she’s looking forward to eating some of this year’s spot prawns, although she usually freezes them so she can enjoy them throughout the year. “I’ve learned lots of new ways to cook them from our customers and the local restaurants that feature our spot prawns.”
She notes that the beginning of the season is always the busiest. But customers can avoid line-ups and ‘sold out’ signs by ordering ahead via their website. She also suggests bringing a bucket or cooler (complete with ice-packs) so your purchase remains cold and dry and there’s no chance of spillage in your car.
And don’t miss the rest of the events at this year’s Steveston Spot Prawn and Seafood Celebration, she adds. “This is a great way to bring people together and showcase the commercial fishing industry and what it does for the local economy,” says Stylianou. Clark agrees. “Everyone should know who produces their food,” he says. “We have some of the best seafood in the world right here––and this is a great opportunity to celebrate that.”
Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Tourism Richmond