Ingredients

Shrimp

Other Names: Black tiger shrimp: Ebi (Japanese); garnele (German). Endeavour prawn: camarón devo (Spanish); crevette devo (French). European common prawn: Bouquet, crevette rose (French); camarão branco (Portuguese); camarón, gamba (Spanish); corgimwch (Welsh). European gray shrimp: Camarão negro (Portuguese); crevette grise (French); gamberetto grigio (Italian); garída (Greek); garnaal (Dutch); hestereke (Norwegian); kahverengi karides (Turkish); quisquilla gris (Spanish); sandgarnele (German); tekke (Turkish). Gulf white shrimp: Camarón blanco norteño (Spanish); crevette ligubam du Nord (French); kurumaeibi-zoku (Japanese); mazzancola bianca atlantica (Italian); nördliche weiss geisselgarnele (German). Gulf pink shrimp: Camarón rosado norteño (Spanish); crevettte rose du Nord (French); kurumaeibi-zoku (Japanese). Gulf brown shrimp: Azteken-geisselgarnele (German); camarón café norteño (Spanish); crevette royale grise (French); mazzancolla caffè (Italian). Pacific white shrimp: Camarão pata branca (Portuguese); camarón patiblanco (Spanish); crevette pattes blanches (French); gamberone centramericano (Italian); geisselgarnele (German); whiteleg shrimp. Spanish red shrimp: Crevette rose du large (French); camarão da costa (Portuguese); gambero rosso (Italian), langostino moruno (Spanish); tsunogachihiroebi (Japanese). Crangoniae, Aristaeidae, Peneidae, Palaemonidae.

General Description: There are a vast number of different kinds of shrimp throughout the world, all divided into three basic categories: cold-water (northern), warm-water (southern or tropical), and freshwater. You may find all three categories in your local market. In the United States, prawn commonly refers to freshwater shrimp or large saltwater shrimp. In the British Isles, prawn is equivalent to U.S. shrimp. The misnomer scampi is often used in restaurants to describe shrimp cooked in butter and garlic. True scampi are actually another creature entirely called the lobsterette. Warmwater shrimp from the Gulf states represent the overwhelming majority of shrimp harvested in the United States.

Black tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) are the largest of more than three hundred commercially sold shrimp species, and can be up to 1 foot long. They are mostly farmed as one of Asia’s most important aquaculture species, though they are also harvested by trawlers. Farmed black tigers have a mild, rather bland flavor, and their texture is soft. Some producers treat these shrimp with sulfites and other chemicals
to prevent deterioration. Shrimp with too many additives will have an unpleasantly soapy flavor. Cook shrimp only long enough for them to turn opaque, as they quickly overcook and toughen.

The European common prawn (Palemon serratus_) is found in inshore waters, walking forward in search of food. Almost translucent when alive, they turn bright orange-red when cooked. The endeavour prawn (_Metapenaeus endeavour) from Australia is prized for its excellent eating qualities. A white prawn, it has a hard shell and firm flesh with sweet flavor.

Tiny gray shrimp (Crangon crangon) belong to the sand shrimp family and are highly prized in Europe. They are gray or brown and translucent. This burrowing species is usually found in shallow, muddy, inshore waters. They are cooked and eaten whole, shell and all, or the meat may be picked out of their tiny tails. They have an intense “shrimpy” flavor.

Gulf whites (Penaeus setiferus_) are sought after for their sweet, firm meat and have been fished commercially as far back as 1709. Gulf pinks (P. duorarum_) are the largest Gulf species, up to 11 inches long and usually sold whole because two-thirds of their body length is in the head. They are tender and sweet with firm texture. Gulf browns (P. aztecus) have reddish brown shells and stronger flavor because of higher iodine content, so they are generally less expensive.

Northern pink shrimp are probably the most important commercial shrimp in the world, found in most northern waters. P. borealis is caught in the northern Atlantic, P. jordani in the northern Pacific. They are quite small, about 50 per pound, and are known as salad shrimp.

Pacific White Shrimp

The large, mild, and sweet Pacific or Panamanian white shrimp (P. vannamei_) is the leading farm-raised species in the Americas, especially in Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama, and in the United States in Texas and South Carolina. Native to the Pacific coast from Mexico to Peru, these white-fleshed shrimp are flown to America during their short summer season
for top-tier restaurants. They are also trawler-caught, though farmed are much more prevalent. Chinese white shrimp (_P. chinensis
) have soft, fragile, mild-tasting meat and grow to more than 7 inches. Because they sell for much less, they are sometimes passed off as more expensive Gulf or Pacific whites.

Santa Barbara spot shrimp

The Santa Barbara spot shrimp (Pandalus platyceros_),
or California spot prawn, is named for the four bright white spots on its body. It has a pink to red shell and sweet, firm flesh. Called tarabaebi in Japanese, they are a highly prized sushi bar item. Look for the delicious roe under their belly shells. The giant red shrimp (_Aristaeomorpha foliacea
) is a
vibrant, deep red color and is harvested in many parts of the world, though not in large quantities.

Locale and Season: Black tiger shrimp are found in Indo-Pacific waters with supplies at their peak June through November. The common prawn and the gray shrimp range from the Mediterranean to Norway. The endeavour prawn is harvested on the northeast coast of Australia. Gulf brown shrimp are found off the Texas-Louisiana coast; pinks on Mexico’s Gulf coast; whites south of the Carolinas and in Florida, with the main harvest from the Gulf of Mexico. Prices for Gulf shrimp are highest in early summer, falling toward the winter holidays. Northern pink shrimp are in peak season from April through October. Pacific white shrimp are in season in summer. Santa Barbara spot shrimp are found from Alaska to San Diego year-round, though supply is greater in summer. Chinese white shrimp are farmed and wild-caught by trawlers in China and Korea. Peak season is from late September to October just after harvest.

Characteristics: Shrimp in retail markets are almost invariably frozen and defrosted, except near areas where they are caught. Tiger shrimp have dark stripes on grayish
shells and stripes on the meat. When cooked, their shells turn bright red and the white flesh is tinted orange. Gulf brown shrimp have a special groove in the last tail segment that differentiates them from the more expensive whites. Small pink cold-water shrimp do not have to be deveined before eating.

How to Choose: In the food trade, shrimp are sold by count, or number per pound, and frozen in standard 5-pound (and 2 kilo) boxes in counts ranging from the largest U 10s
(under 10 per pound) to the smallest 51–60s (51 to 60 per pound). The smaller the count, the larger and more expensive the shrimp. In retail markets, shrimp are sold as small, medium, large, or jumbo. Avoid black tiger shrimp with pitted shells or black spots on the shell. Choose shrimp that are resilient and moist; improperly frozen shrimp will be tough, dry, and fibrous. Look for shrimp from aquafarms that follow U.S. HAACP food safety protocols. Avoid Chinese white shrimp with chlorine, sulfur, or ammonia odors. An undesirable grassy odor is associated with pond-raised shrimp. Number One Pacific Whites are Mexico’s topgrade of these desirable shrimp. Peeled shrimp are dipped in phosphates to minimize shrinkage. Avoid those that feel soapy; they have been soaked too long.

Storage: Refrigerate up to 2 days. Frozen shrimp may be stored up to three months in the freezer as long as they never melt or defrost; use within 2 days of thawing.

Preparation:

To devein, cut along the back of the shrimp tail. Remove the long black vein and discard. Rinse under cold water, and drain well.

Grill, poach, broil, sauté, bake, hot-smoke, bread or batter and deep-fry, or pan-fry. Take care to cook only until the tail meats are opaque and lightly curled. Save the shells for seafood stock.

Suggested Recipe: Shrimp Provençal (serves 4): Sauté 1 1/2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp in a large skillet just until
pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add 1/2 cup diced colorful bell peppers, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon each chopped garlic and thyme, and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and cook until softened. Add 2 cups diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup halved Provençal olives, and 1/2 cup white wine and cook 10 minutes or until thickened. Add the shrimp and simmer 3 minutes, or until opaque. Mix in 1/2 cup
shredded basil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with rice.

Flavor Affinities: Basil, brandy, butter, chervil, coriander, cream, fennel, garlic, lemon, marjoram, oregano, paprika, red onion, saffron, shallot, sugar, tarragon, thyme, white wine.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com