I know a lot of people who are afraid of shrimp.
Maybe it is because when they are raw they look like little insects or perhaps because you have to peel and de-vein them before cooking them, but some people just opt out of shrimp altogether.
Which is a terrible shame because shrimp are one of the most affordable, delicious, healthy and versatile seafood you can find. Shrimp cocktail, shrimp shish-ka-bobs, shrimp with pasta, fried shrimp, popcorn shrimp, and peel and eat shrimp are all among my favorite menu items.
Unless you live on the Gulf Coast or in Thailand, the shrimp you buy at the market were almost certainly frozen at some point during their journey. That’s because fresh shrimp are highly perishable and unless you are cooking and consuming them right off the shrimping boat, they need to be frozen to maintain their quality.
Some shrimpers freeze and package the shrimp at sea on factory boats. Others process their haul at giant factories next to the docks. In the US, most shrimp come from the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coasts.
Fun fact: When you buy boxed shrimp that is frozen, it usually is the same as the shrimp displayed in your grocer’s seafood department. In most cases, they just took it out of the box and defrosted it first.
Shrimp is sold by its size, with the biggest shrimp costing the most. Shrimp are priced by the number of peices of shrimp it takes to make a pound — 41/50, for example, means it takes between 41 and 50 shrimp of that size to make a pound.
I usually use 16/20 shrimp which typically cost about $5 to $6/lb. But you can buy shrimp that go all the way up to U10 (under-10 shrimp to the pound), which at that point are basically like small lobsters.
This classic New Orleans recipe is delicious even for people who don’t usually like shrimp because the sweetness of the shrimp perfectly complements the tangy, slightly spicy flavor of the sauce.
1 lb 16/20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS EVOO
1 onion, medium dice
2 stalks celery, ribs and leaves included, medium dice
1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 TBS all-purpose flour
1 8-oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup water
Juice of one lemon
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBS tomato paste
2 to 3 shakes of Worchestersire sauce
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin
1. Peel shrimp by tearing away the shell starting at the legs, then carefully tugging off the shell at the tail. De-vein shrimp by using a paring knife to make a shallow cut down the back, then use the knife to pull out the vein and discard. Rinse shrimp under cold water and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Put pot on fire and add oil and butter. When butter melts, add onions, green pepper and celery and cook until onion translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf and cook another minute, then add flour and stir around, forming a kind of pot roux.
3. When flour begins to turn slightly brown, add the tomato sauce, water, lemon juice, sugar, and cayenne. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestersire sauce. The Creole sauce should thicken to the consistency of creamed soup. If it gets too thick, thin it out with a little additional water. Simmer 30 minutes.
4. Add shrimp and stir so that all shrimp are completely coated with sauce, then simmer an additional 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Season to taste with salt. Serve over brown rice or pasta and garnish with green onions.
Are you afraid of shrimp? Don’t be, but tell us why in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!