Ready-to-eat prawns are just as the name suggests: ready to eat, right out of the bag. You can tear open the packaging, straight from the fridge, and pop the prawns in your mouth without fear of upset stomach consequences.
The prawns will have already been peeled, saving you the fiddly, hard work. They will also have been cooked. This is what makes them ready-to-eat, and safe to eat.
Can you use ready-to-eat prawns in a cooked recipe, however?
Prawns that state ‘ready to eat’ on the packaging have usually already been cooked.
You will not be eating unsafe food if you add them to a recipe, such as a curry, but you are double-cooking the prawns. This can have a huge effect not only the flavour, but also the texture.
What Happens If I Cook Ready-to-Eat Prawns?
The quality of your ready-to-eat prawns will suffer if you choose to re-cook them.
The texture can turn tough, chewy and rubber-like when they are overcooked or double cooked. The flavour and smell can also change somewhat, as can the appearance.
Some people would even go as far as to describe ready-to-eat prawns that have been overcooked or double cooked as unpleasant.
What’s the Best Way to Cook Ready-to-Eat Prawns?
If you are going to add prawns to a cooked dish, make sure you add them right at the last minute.
They should be given enough time in the pan to reheat through, but not long enough so that they start to cook again.
If they are in the pan for too long, they will start to turn chewy and tough quite quickly. This usually means only two or three minutes depending on the heat used.
Can You Reheat Leftover Cooked Ready-to-Eat Prawns?
It is not advisable to re-heat a dish contains cooked or warmed-through ready-to-eat prawns. You are risking giving yourself food poisoning.
The prawns will have essentially been cooked three times in this case and will not be safe to eat.
Unsafe seafood can be very bad for you, so you should only buy ready-to-eat prawns if you plan to eat them within a couple of days.
If you have used raw prawns in your dish rather than ready-to-eat prawns, you can reheat it one time.
You should ensure that your prawns or prawn dish have been cooled and then refrigerated within one to two hours of cooking and serving.
The leftovers must be thrown out if they are not eaten within one or two days, or if the smell, appearance, colour or texture of the dish (specifically the prawns) have changed.
Easy Ways to Use Up Ready-to-Eat Prawns
You can add ready-to-eat prawns to any dish that calls for prawns, provided they are added right at the last minute and only given a couple of minutes in the pan to heat through.
Prawn cocktail is a great dish to enjoy the prawns cold, without a need to add them to a cooked recipe.
You could also add them as a filling for a sandwich, or as a chilled topping, with a sauce of your choice, on top of a jacket potato.
Kim is a writer with more than a decade of experience, and a food enthusiast. When she’s not spending her time writing about her favourite dishes, you can find her in the cake aisle of her local supermarket, or making a mess in the kitchen.