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King Prawns from Sanlúcar

King Prawns from Sanlúcar are one of the most renowned gastronomic treasures of the province of Cadiz. The king prawn caught in the area is the Melicertus kerathurus, common in other areas of the Mediterranean, bearing a certain resemblance to the what is known as the “tiger prawn”. The king prawn is a crustacean from the same family as shrimp. In fact, at first they look very similar, though later, when boiled (which is the most common way to eat them), they differ in that the colors of their horizontal bands alternate between those of a whiter color and others reaching a deep orange color, close to red. When raw, these horizontal stripes show shades of light brown and beige.

King prawns are sold fresh or frozen. The area has its own peculiar way of cooking them, with a very quick boil, just before eating; just long enough for the water they are placed in to begin re-boiling. Later they are placed in brine with salt, water and ice, which makes the shell covering the shrimp meat stiffen and therefore makes them easy to peel when eating.

The Sanlúcar king prawn is farmed in the mouth of the Guadalquivir river, in an area adjacent to the Natural Park of Doñana, one of the most biologically diverse areas in Europe. By day, it usually lives hiding in the sand, and then at night, it comes out to feed, mainly on algae and small crustaceans. It is precisely this food and the characteristics of the waters in which it grows, that confer such an intense flavor to the product, making it famous in comparison with that of other areas.

Fishermen say the most precious are those that are captured by the Samaruco area at the mouth of river. They recommend catching them as adults, at 3 or 4 months of life.

At present, the Association of Municipalities of Bajo Guadalquivir, through its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, along with the City Governments of Sanlúcar, Chipiona and Rota, and the Provincial Delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Cadiz, are driving to create an official quality brand name called “Langostino de Sanlúcar” (King Prawn of Sanlúcar) for the king prawn caught on the coast of the Lower Guadalquivir. This would be a quality differential observed by the European Union, bringing significant benefits to fisheries of the region.

For this purpose, the Association of Municipalities commissioned a study, conducted jointly by the University of Granada and the Institute of Marine Sciences of Andalusia. The study concluded that the seafood obtained in the towns of Sanlúcar, Rota, and Chipiona, has different characteristics than those captured in other parts of the world, hence making it opportune to implement an official quality brand that can identify it in the market.

Sanlúcar king prawns are one of the most valued specialties of the province of Cadiz, from a gastronomic point of view, well known by the Spanish gourmet palates.

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