Okay, I don’t have a grill, and I don’t like shrimp. Actually, I don’t like seafood at all. (Even just looking at fish completely creeps me out. Weird, I know.) But I married a Catholic (::gasp:: The horror!), and I’m running out of things to feed us on Fridays during Lent (otherwise known as abstaining-from-meat-except-fish-day). A girl can only eat so many black bean salads, and Eric won’t eat the beans, so he’s starving. Which, I think is the point…but, anyway.
I picked up a couple of bags of frozen shrimp as a last minute thought during my recent grocery trip. After a seafood poisoning debacle on our honeymoon (Eric, not me), I wasn’t sure the best way to go about presenting him with seafood again. However, he mentioned really wanting a McDonald’s fish sandwich (gross). TANGENT ALERT: Now I can’t really blame him for wanting one-I mean the fish sandwich was started in Cincinnati, for Catholics, during Lent. It’s like it’s in his blood or something.
(Lou Groen, Cincinnatian who invented the Filet-o-Fish)
So, needless to say, I promised a wonderful home-cooked Lenten meal tonight in exchange for him staying away McDonald’s. And I have no idea what I’m going to make with this shrimp. Enter Foodie Friday.
The term shrimp originated around the 14th century with the Middle English shrimpe, akin to the Middle Low German schrempen, and meaning to contract or wrinkle; and the Old Norse skorpna, meaning to shrivel up.
The oft-quoted phrase “shrimp on the barbie” is a misnomer. Shrimp are part of a classification that includes prawns. Prawns and shrimp are similar, but different. Throughout the rest of the world, folks refer to both shrimp and prawns as prawns; here, we refer to both as shrimp. That line was changed to “shrimp on the barbie” so that Americans would understand, even though Aussies say “prawn”.
Shrimp can swim both forwards and backwards.
After canned tuna, shrimp is the top seller of seafood in the U.S.
There are over 300 different species of shrimp eaten worldwide.
Where is it Grown?
Commercial shrimp farming began in the 1970’s, though sustainable practices can be dated back to Asia as far back the 1400’s. The total worldwide production of farmed shrimp reached more than 1.6 million tons in 2003. About 75% of farmed shrimp are produced in Asia, in particular in China and Thailand. The other 25% are produced mainly in Latin America, where Brazil is the largest producer. The largest exporting nation is Thailand.
Storage and Shelf-Life
Fresh shrimp should be bought as close as possible to the date planned for eating it, as it will last only a day or two. It is very sensitive to temperature, and should be refrigerated immediately. However, the temperature of most refrigerators is slightly warmer than ideal for storing seafood, so place the shrimp, which should be well wrapped, in a baking dish filled with ice. The baking dish and shrimp should then be placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, which is its coolest area. Replenish ice one or two times per day.
Fresh shrimp should have firm bodies that are still attached to their shells. They should be free of black spots on their shell since this indicates that the flesh has begun to break down. In addition, the shells should not appear yellow or “gritty” as this may be indicative that sodium bisulfate or another chemical has been used to bleach the shells. (Uh, no thank you?)
Smell is a good indicator of freshness; good quality shrimp have a slightly saltwater smell. (Hmmm…I’m not sure I would be able to pinpoint this smell, and if I did, I’m not sure that I would associate it with a “fresh” smell, ya know? One of the main reasons I don’t like seafood is I can’t stand the “fishy” smell. Blah…)
You can extend the shelf life of shrimp by freezing it. To do so, wrap it well in plastic and place it in the coldest part of the freezer where it will keep for about one month.
To defrost shrimp place it in a bowl of cold water or in the refrigerator. Do not thaw the shrimp at room temperature or in a microwave since this can lead to a loss of moisture and nutrients.
Oookay…I’m usually a big advocate for buying “fresh”, but this seems like too much work. I’ll stick to my frozen package with a nice little expiration date on it. I was sure to read the package carefully and paid a little more for a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that made me feel better about eating something that swims around in toxic chemical water.
Umm, Why Should I Care?
Shrimp are an excellent source of protein– a four ounce serving of shrimp supplies 23.7 grams of protein (that’s 47.4% of the daily value for protein)–for a mere 112 calories, and less than a gram of fat.
Amazing source of selenium—which has been shown to induce DNA repair in damaged cells, and to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Good source of Vitamin D.
Good source of Vitamin B12–one of the nutrients needed to keep levels of homocysteine, a molecule that can directly damage blood vessel walls and is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, low.
Also a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, noted for their anti-inflammatory effects, ability to prevent the formation of blood clots, reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, and plays a part in overall mood and function.
Omega 3’s also helps with lowering blood pressure, and keeping the heart pumping on a “regular cycle”. In one study done in Greece, participants who ate fish/shrimp had a rate that was lower than those who did not eat fish regularly; that is, their hearts were beating stronger, therefore did not need as many beats per minute.
Shrimp is very high in cholesterol, and does raise LDL (bad cholesterol). However, it also raises good cholesterol (HDL). If you’re not opposed to eating two eggs (also high in cholesterol), then there is no problem with eating a serving of shrimp.
Mercury and other chemical-related poisoning. I mean these things are born, raised, and soaked in water that is the equivalent of a toxic waste dump. How much does rinsing and cooking really help?
Shellfish allergy is one of the highest reported allergies.
“Baby” shrimp can rely on a natural product, their own yolk for survival. After that, shrimp feed on algae and plankton. BUT! Leave it up to modern science to develop “artificial shrimp feed” to feed to farmed shrimp. Come on, people. You can’t get any more natural or simple than larva–>yolk–>algae. Why, oh why, do we need “artificial shrimp feed”, and what is in it?
Shrimp can be cooked either shelled or unshelled depending how you will be using them in a recipe. There are various methods to removing the shell. One way is to first pinch off the head and the legs and then, holding the tail, peel the shell off from the body.
If shelling frozen shrimp, do not defrost them completely as they will be easier to shell when they are still slightly frozen.
Some people prefer to remove the shrimp’s intestines before cooking or eating. To do so, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp and pull out the dark vein that runs throughout by rinsing under cold water. (Oh, gross. Seriously. I’m now remembering why I have always refused to cook shrimp.)
Shrimp can be eaten cold or hot. Serve with a cocktail sauce or salsa for dipping, or mix with a sauce to add on top of a salad.
For hot shrimp, try these:
Looking at what I have in the cabinets, I think I’ll be whipping up a stir fry + pasta.
Linguine or Rice
Assorted Veggies (we have some red & green peppers, onion, squash, carrots, peas, broccoli and asparagus left from the week)
Since I don’t eat pasta, and I’m probably not going to eat the shrimp (see below), it looks like I’m in for a tasty bowl of veggie stir-fry, which actually sounds quite delish!
And. Okay, I really thought that a little research and some good recipes would change my mind. I just can’t do it. I will never be a seafood person. I’m more grossed out and against eating seafood than I was when I started. Back to the black bean salad! Or perhaps I’ll switch it up with an omelet.