Shrimp: deliciously versatile

shrimp

Sweet and succulent, shrimp and prawns add delicious spark to a meal. They’re meaty but tender and boundlessly versatile, perfect to liven up a weeknight stir-fry or pasta, or to top a salad for a healthy lunch. Combine them with wild, bright flavors — think Spicy Mango Shrimp and Coconut Lime Shrimp — or go traditional and eat them one by one, dipped in your favorite cocktail sauce or melted butter.

Style and substance

Shrimp are a low-fat, low-calorie protein — a four-ounce serving of shrimp has 23.7 grams of protein for just over 100 calories and less than a gram of fat. Shrimp also are rich in tryptophan, a nutrient that helps regulate appetite, improve sleep, and elevate mood; and selenium, which is good for the cells, thyroid and joints. They’re also a good source of vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Why our shrimp are better

Not all shrimp are delicious and healthy — or sustainable. Nearly all of the shrimp eaten by Americans is imported from countries such as Thailand, India and Ecuador, where industrial shrimp farms are destroying the environment and coastal communities, and producing unhealthy, flavorless shrimp.
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At PCC, we carry only American shrimp, wild-caught or farmed in ways that are ecologically sustainable and produced without antibiotics or pesticides. We carry a range of sizes and styles — fresh, frozen, raw, cooked — to meet your cooking needs. Here are a few you may find in our stores:

  • Certified Wild American shrimp — If you’re looking for a big, flavorful shrimp, great for the barbecue or as the star of a saute, try the Certified Wild American Shrimp we carry from Woods Fisheries, a fifth-generation family fishery in Port St. Joe, Fla. The Woods family has shrimped in the Gulf of Mexico since 1860 and uses special equipment to reduce the amount of bycatch, which is an environmental concern with most wild shrimp.

    Depending on the season, PCC carries mild, soft “whites,” richly flavored “browns,” or the Florida Hoppers, which have a firm texture and a jewel-like pink sheen after cooking. We carry Woods’ shrimp fresh and frozen, and both raw and cooked.
  • Woods Fisheries farmed shrimp — Raised in inland farms in the southeast, these shrimp have earned a “green” rating for sustainability from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Find them peeled and deveined at PCC.
  • Oregon pink shrimp — Also known as Bay Shrimp, Cocktail Shrimp, Ocean Shrimp and Salad Shrimp, what these small shrimp lack in size they make up for in incredibly sweet flavor. They’ve received a “green” rating from Seafood Watch because they’re sustainably harvested along the Oregon coast. Oregon pink shrimp always come cooked and shelled, so use them in any recipe calling for small shrimp, such as salads, tacos, or even shrimp cocktail. You’ll find them in our seafood cases and in one-pound bags in our freezer sections.

Cooking tips

Overcooking

Cooking shrimp too long is a common error. Shrimp cook in as few as three minutes — when they’re pink, they’re done. Overcooked shrimp become tough and lose their flavor. Remove them from the heat while they’re still tender; shrimp continue to cook after they are removed from the heat. You can immerse briefly shrimp in ice water or spread shrimp on ice to stop the cooking.

Peeling

Remove the shell before cooking if the shrimp will be served in hot liquid. Leave the shell on if poaching for later use, or if grilling, as the shell protects the meat. Leaving the shell on during cooking will impart good flavor to the shrimp.

Cooking with frozen shrimp

If using frozen shrimp, thaw and drain them before frying, sautéing, broiling or grilling. While frozen shrimp don’t need to be thawed before boiling or steaming, they’re more tender if they are. Defrost shrimp in the fridge or in cold water.

Boiling

Thaw shrimp in cool water before cooking. Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil, add a quartered lemon and about 2 tablespoons of sea salt per quart of water. Add 2 pounds of shrimp and wait a few minutes, then remove the shrimp and put on ice until cooled. Sprinkle generously with seasonings and salt before peeling (if shelled) and eating.

Sautéing

When sautéing, don’t cook too many shrimp at a time, because the moisture from the shrimp can end up steaming them. Thaw shrimp, peel, and damp dry. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter to a sauté pan on medium heat. Add a clove of chopped garlic into the pan, fry briefly, and then add a handful of shrimp and stir. After about a minute, sprinkle with sea salt, turn the shrimp and cook about same amount of time. Sprinkle with more sea salt and remove from heat. Add a splash of white wine to the pan during the last minute of cooking, or a bit of Cajun spice. A squeeze of lemon or lime adds a great tangy flavor.

More about: seafood, shrimp, sustainable seafood

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fisherman
The Woods family has shrimped the Gulf of Mexico for five generations.
Photo courtesy Woods Fisheries

A note about Gulf of Mexico shrimp

You may have wondered if wild shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico could be tainted from the 2010 BP oil spill.

The answer is that it's extremely unlikely, since all U.S. seafood is subject to rigorous inspections by food scientists, who use gas chromatographers and other technology to measure whether seafood has any trace of hydrocarbons. Tainted seafood would never be approved for sale.

You may also have heard that wild Gulf shrimp is not environmentally sustainable due to high rates of bycatch incurred when they are caught.

Bycatch refers to the other species, such as sea turtles and other species of fish, that end up dying in the nets along with the shrimp.

Two simple innovations have dramatically reduced bycatch in recent years: Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs), a kind of trap door in the net that allows turtles to swim out, and Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs), which allow small fish to swim out through a small hole at the top of a net. This technology has made wild Gulf shrimp more environmentally friendly.

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