Seafood Friday – Shrimp

You are more likely to find shrimp on any restaurant’s menu than any other kind of seafood.

That’s probably because shrimp is relatively inexpensive, can be found just about anywhere there is salt water, and has a delicious, sweet flavor that can be paired with just about anything.

Five things you might not know about shrimp:

1. Shrimp and prawns are the same thing. In India, the world’s largest shrimp-farming nation, all shrimplike animals are called prawns. However, in the US and UK, the term “prawn” generally is reserved for large shrimps.

2. Above a certain size, you need to remove the shrimp’s digestive tract prior to cooking it. This is known as deveining the shrimp. After peeling away the shrimp’s shell, simply make a shallow incision down the shrimp’s back and use the blade of the knife to remove the vein. In some cases the vein is easy to see because it is full of partially digested shrimp food, in others it’s nearly transparent. Then rinse the shrimp under cold water for a moment. Or you can buy deveined shrimp for a few cents more per pound.

3. Some shrimp have hard shells like lobsters. Rock shrimp, which are found off the Atlantic coast from Norfolk, Virginia, to the Bahamas, used to be discarded by fishermen because its shell was too hard to remove. But around 1970 a machine was invented that easily shells rock shrimp and since then its lobster-like meat has become a popular part of many menus.

4. Unless you live right on the water, most shrimp you buy will be frozen or has been frozen at some point during its journey to market. That’s because shrimp is highly perishable. Many commercial shrimpers process and freeze the shrimp right there on the boat to immediately halt decay in quality.

5. Sea monkeys, the popular “family of pets” that were promoted in advertisements in the back of comic books in the 1970s actually were freeze-dried brine shrimp. When you placed them in water, they ended their suspended animation and came to life. They didn’t really look like people, though.

This reduced-fat recipe for white shrimp with oricchiette pasta with a tomato cream sauce is fast, easy and delicious. Oricchiette is Italian for “little pigs’ ears” and refers to the shape of the pasta. If you can’t find it at your market, you can substitute any pasta you prefer.

White Shrimp with Oricchiette Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce

1/2 lb White shrimp, defrosted, peeled and deveined

2 cloves Garlic, crushed

3 TBS Extra virgin olive oil, separated, with a little more for the pasta

1/2 White onion, small dice

1/2 Green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, small dice

1 Jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, small dice

6 oz Can of tomato sauce

1 tsp Dried basil (or fresh)

1 tsp Dried oregano (or fresh)

1/3 cup Fat-free half and half

1/4 cup Grated parmesan cheese, plus a little more for garnish

1 lb Oricchiette pasta

Sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

1/4 cup Parsley, chopped fine

1. Combine shrimp, garlic and TBS of EVOO in a small bowl, coating all shrimp in oil and evenly distributing garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, usually about 9-10 minutes. Drain but don’t rinse. Return to pot. Drizzle in a little EVOO, add a little salt and pepper and toss. Set aside

3. Put a sauce pot over a medium heat. When hot, add 1 TBS EVOO. When smoking, add onion, green pepper and jalapeno and cook until onion translucent, about five minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, basil and oregano. When sauce begins to bubble, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook about five minutes so the flavors can meld together. Then whisk in the fat-free half and half and season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the parmesan cheese.

4. Put a non-stick sautee pan over a medium heat. When hot, add just a drop of EVOO. When smoking add shrimp and all of the marinade. Saute until shrimp are cooked through, about three to four minutes.

5. To assemble, pile pasta in the center of a pasta bowl. Use a kitchen spoon or a tablespoon to ladle a little sauce over the top, then use a tongs to carefully arrange shrimp evenly around the sides of the pasta, leaving spaces between each shrimp. Garnish with parsley and additional parmesan.