Fragrant Thai Spot Prawn Soup with Seaweed and Sea Asparagus

From Chef Lila Ruzicka

2017 Mar/Apr

Local spot prawns are in season in May. Chef Lila Ruzicka recommends freezing the shells of the prawns to make a big batch of prawn stock. The heads are full of flavour so don’t ever throw out (or overboard) if you’re lucky enough to get them fresh. Spot prawns have a sweet firm flesh, they only need the lightest touch of heat to cook them to perfection. A good sustainable substitute for spot prawns is wild Argentinian prawns.


  • 1 lb. spot prawns/li>
  • 1 t. sea salt/li>
  • 1 t. white sugar/li>
  • 1 scallion smashed/li>
  • 1 slice galangal/li>
  • 1 T. vegetable or sesame oil/li>
  • 8 c. prawn or fish stock/li>
  • 4 c. water/li>
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, smashed with back of knife, sliced into 1/2” slices/li>
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves/li>
  • 4 slices galangal/li>
  • 2 small birds eye red chiles, sliced/li>
  • 1 garlic clove minced/li>
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk/li>
  • 1 onion sliced thinly/li>
  • 1 celery stalk sliced thinly/li>
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms/li>
  • (oyster is my favourite)/li>
  • 1 red sweet pepper, julienned/li>
  • juice of 2 limes/li>
  • 1 T. fish sauce/li>
  • 1 t. palm sugar or light brown sugar/li>
  • 3 scallions sliced thinly/li>
  • big handful cilantro leaves, including finely chopped stems


  • handful sea asparagus, soaked in fresh cold water for 2 hrs/li>
  • handful fresh seaweed, chopped fine, or crumbled if dry/li>
  • cilantro leaves, garnish/li>
  • red chile, thinly sliced, for more heat/li>
  • (optional), garnish


Peel the prawns and set aside shells if using for the broth. Place the prawns in large roasting pan single layer. Bring salt, sugar and 8 c. water to a boil, add scallion and galangal. Pour boiling liquid over prawns, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Drain and cool. In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the prawn shells, stock, water, lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, chiles, garlic and coconut milk. Bring to boil, simmer for 1 hour. Strain broth. Add onion, celery, mushrooms and red pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer for another 2 minutes. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar, herbs and optional greens. Place a few prawns in each bowl and pour hot broth overtop. Garnish with cilantro and thinly sliced red chile if you like more heat. Serves 6-8.