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Friday, January 22, 2010

Catchin' Prawns & Eatin'


One of the days we were staying in Taupo, B decided we should go prawn fishing.

We headed over to Huka Prawn Park to take a tour of the facilities, visit the baby prawns and then catch and eat their parents.

It's a cruel world we live in.


There is a nice little walk thru the grounds. These are the fishing ponds.

The water is pretty cold in New Zealand, far too cold for these prawns to live. Huka Prawn Park is conveniently located next to a geothermal plant and funnels in the extra geothermal water and converts its heat to heat the fresh water streaming in from the neighboring Waikato river.

Did you get that? Basically, they warm the water to proper tropical temperatures at no cost to them (less the initial cost of the pipe system).


That's my husband. Mine. ~snort~

In his mind are visions of shrimp cocktail, shrimp gumbo, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, and so on and so forth.

He is picturing the buckets of shrimp we'll catch and cook.


This is the Waikato river I was telling you about. Do you see the vibrant blue in the middle? The water is deeper there and you can see that brilliant blue from pretty far away. Further down this river is the amazing Huka Falls.

FYI: There is no difference between prawns and shrimp. In CA we say shrimp. In NZ they say prawn. Same difference.


We took a walk thru the plant and they showed us what the shrimp look like. This happens to be the king of this tank. The claws are a little bit scary.

After this we went into the nursery where we fed the baby shrimp. They gave us a handful of food (pellets of some sort) and we stuck our arms into the water. Shrimp the size of 14 font (thats all I could think of) gathered around our hands and arms.

It felt weird. Little squiggly things were under my nails, things were wriggling up my arm and then... something pinched me! Like when you get bit by a little ant. I almost smashed that baby shrimp as a reaction but I didn't think the tour guide would appreciate it.

~pinch, pinch~ Are you edible?


Another veiw of the ponds. It was a bit dreary out that morning.


We picked up our poles, our buckets and our bait.

Those bamboo sticks are our poles. You don't really need to reel in the prawns :)


We sat in a little hut like this and put our bait in.

As so wonderfully described in the first picture, there is a technique to doing this.
First you put your bait on the hook and drop it into the water (but don't fall asleep). You let it go all the way down to the bottom. A prawn will come over and grab your bait. Do NOT pull up on your pole. The prawn is going to take the bait to a safe place to eat. Let it walk along, following with your pole. When it stops you know its eating so you gently pull up and voila! you have a prawn.


B startled me when he caught one. I wasn't expecting it to come swinging by my face when it popped out of the water. Here, he is making fun of me.

He caught this one in the first 5 minutes.

And then we sat. And we sat. And we sat.


He caught another one and then we sat. And sat. And sat.

Its not like there wasn't activity. I mean the prawns loved me. They would come on up, YANK the bait off my hook and walk away laughing. Little jerks. All I did was lose bait all day.


I was totally determined to catch one. Or at least more than 2 in the 1 1/2 hours we were there. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we had an appointment to kayak so we had to head over to cook our 2 shrimp.

Poor B. So much for that big shrimp cook out he imagined. Notice the title does not say catching prawns and eating them. I would hardly call 2 prawns a meal.


He heartlessy thru my little pets into the basket of doom.


And then he ate their bodies and sucked their brains.

The circle of life.

We'll save kayaking for another post completely and skip to one of the dinners we had.


We went to the Pavillion Restaurant at the Bayview Warakei Resort and enjoyed some fantastic New Zealand wine. They are known for their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

I can't remember the name of this wine. I might have to start travelling with a little memo pad.


B had sauteed duck liver over gnocchi with a cream sauce.

I don't like liver. I did try some. B loved this dish!


I had the fresh artisan bread with garlic, olive oil and dukkah.


Actually I ordered it because I had no idea what dukkah was. Apparently its a crumbly nut and spice blend originating in Egypt. Its really fantastic and I'd like to make it at home.


For the main course I had this filet on gratin potato with a red wine demi. What you see around the bottom are the most amazing onions and of course, more garlic. The filet is topped with potato and kumara (NZ's sweet potato) strips.

Totally delicious.


The higlight of this dish was the horseradish relish. Creamy horseradish with green onion, tomato and what must be fresh peppercorns. A little heavy on the peppercorns but I love this idea and I'm sure B will be re-creating it.

One of the wonders of eating while traveling is the ability to get new ideas in your own cooking.

I love getting new ideas for B's cooking. ;)


B had the Orange Roughy with a coconut curry sauce, baby bok choy and jasmine rice topped with pink peppercorns.

It was a very light and refreshing dish. It's obvious this chef loves peppercorns and I'm still on the fence about the amount used.


Did you know that we had dessert with every dinner? And some lunches.

This is the Sticky Date Cake with caramel sauce, a scoop of mascarpone and ginger ice cream.


New Zealand loves their mascarpone and I love them for it. The date pudding/cake was totally moist and not overly sweet. My favorite on this dish was the ginger ice cream which had chunks of crystallized ginger in it.

I can't wait for summer so I can put my ice cream maker into the regular rotation. Perhaps this summer we'll even find a place to fish for shrimp. Do you fish for shrimp? I mean, I know you fish for fish, perhaps you shrimp for shrimp.

I just want to redeem myself by catching one single prawn. Just one.

the rambler


  1. Hi, Dawn! Yippee, I get to be the first to comment on this post! (clap, clap, clap! Yay me!) Anyway, I have been away from your blog for a couple weeks (after following the 1st week of your honeymoon religiously) and must say, LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! The photos of the food are amazing and your comments are so witty and your husband is so dorky and...what more can I say!?! Hope you are adjusting to life back in California!

  2. 2 shrimp! That's .... a .. a ... a ... one a piece? Shrimp of a snack!
    Seriously, what a relaxing adventure ... no wonder they had the No Sleeping sign!
    The dinner looks great! Love the pics!

  3. Do you guys know how to have fun or what?? I love all of your adventures!

  4. Y'all really did a wide range of activities while there. I've never heard of fishing for shrimp with a pole.

    Ginger ice cream - yum! Why wait until summer to pull out your ice cream maker?

  5. you gotta know when to hold em', know when to fold em'... sorry I read your post and then saw "the rambler" and well... i have a short attention span.

    and now i'm hungry for shrimp! thanks D

  6. Mmmm, shrimp. I really love that B was eating them with such obvious glee. :)

  7. Bummer.

    You know I don't think I could have eaten any prawn that I caught. Yeah, I can't be friends with my food before it becomes my food. :)

    Happy Friday!

  8. I love homemade ice cream. Sigh...dessert for every meal. Yummmmmm. I would have freaked if I had a prawn near my face, ewwwww!

  9. How cool is that?!? Reminds me of when I was a kid...we would go a hunting for crawdads. I'm with you about the liver thing. Looks like ya'll are having a fantastic time.

  10. Ugh! I had no idea that shrimp looked like that. It looks like a giant bug! I may never be able to eat shrimp again. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I could, however, go to town on that date and ginger business.


  11. I knew it. I knew it! I always leave your blog hungry! Yum!

  12. Oh. OH!! Oh, I do SO long to eat a meal with you. Girl, you know how to eat! OK, you dine, really. Some day I'll be back in SF. Maybe we could?

  13. Love reading of NZ..beautiful..I don't think I could haave stuck my hand in the water and let the prawns pinch thank you!!

  14. I am trying to stay away from bad-for-me-food and then you post these amazingly scrumptious photos of food!!! Ahhh!

    Now, I'm leaving to find a salad with my name on it.

  15. I'm so cracking up that you thought of size 14 font when you saw the baby shrimpies. LOL! You crack me up, seriously. Your prawn catching adventures sound like Hubs and I out fishing. I do NOT have the patience to sit and fish, it is such a guy thing (IMO) - loved that blue water though, so pretty!

    All I have left to say is WORD to the mascarpone.

  16. Sucking prawn brains...I can't think about anything else now.

    Love the photo of B as a prawn. HA!

    prawn brains...

  17. Girlfriend knows how to eat. I love it! I could eat like that every day! Did you gain any weight while you were honeymooning?

  18. hey gooch.. looks like a lot of fun.. and all the food.. makes me wanna go travel..


Your comments make my day- thanks for visiting!

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