Fresh prawns can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with ice for up to five days. Drain water daily and replace the ice. De-head and freeze prawns if you do not intend to use them in a day or two.
It is important to thaw tails properly to maintain the quality and texture of the meat. If possible, it is best to thaw prawns immediately before preparation. Thaw under cool running water to separate. For best results, cook immediately after thawing or removing from ice. Refrigerate if not cooking immediately, but for no longer than 8 hours. Do not allow thawed tails to come to room temperature for an extended period of time. Do not refreeze thawed prawns.
If boiling prawns with shells on make sure to use more seasoning than usual. The shells are very thick and this makes it more difficult for tails to absorb spices with shells still attached. You do not have to thaw prawns before boiling. Bring seasoned water to a rolling boil, add prawns, cover and boil for 4 - 5 minutes if frozen, or for 3 - 4 minutes if thawed. Drain, cool, and serve. Do not over cook!!! If you want tails to really absorb the spices try peeling the tails before boiling. This will increase the spicy flavor of the tails. Removing the shells before boiling will reduce the necessary boiling time to 2 minutes.
Grilling, Baking, and Sautéing
Prawns have very little salt in the meat therefore it will accept the flavors you add more readily. Marinate peeled tails for 10 - 30 minutes in the refrigerator before cooking and they will absorb the flavor of the marinade. Grill thawed prawns with shells for 2.5 to 3 minutes per side. Grill thawed and peeled prawns for 1.5 to 2 minutes per side. Sauté prawns for 4 - 5 minutes.
Cooking Whole Prawns
Cooking whole prawns preserves the natural juices and delicate flavor. Many believe prawns have the best flavor and texture when they are cooked with the heads and shell intact. If the recipe does not call for whole prawns you may want to save the head in the freezer for making shrimp stock in other recipes.
When using any cooking method, your cooking time may vary depending on the size of the prawns and your cooking equipment. Usually, prawns are ready to serve when the shells turn red.