Shrimp, Gulf Shrimp, Shrimp Diablos, Shrimp Salad, Jumbo Shrimp, Shrimp Boats
Shrimp Cockail - Delicious
Tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico
Not to be an alarmist or anything, but the BP Gulf oil disaster may end life on this planet as we know it. Randy Prescott of BP Oil company said that "shrimp comes from other places than the Gulf of Mexico." I say that "Oil and gas for my car will come from other companies than BP!"
The impacts to fish, shellfish, marine mammals, turtles, birds and other sensitive resources as well as their habitats, including wetlands, beaches, mudflats, bottom sediments, corals and the water column are hard to quantitate, but these resources are vital to the health of the world. There is also the issue of lost human uses of these resources, for example, fishing, hunting, and beach recreational closures.
Many of my readers do not know this, as my handle is Austinstar, but I was born and raised in a little town in Texas called Houston. Houston is home to the Texas oil industry, as well as many Gulf of Mexico shrimp processing centers. Shrimp is a huge business in Texas. It's also a gigantic industry for the entire Gulf including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and to a lesser extent, Florida.
My own brother owned a shrimp boat at one time and I have many fond memories of sitting out in the back yard with my Dad to shell thousands of the little critters. We would then feed the household for weeks with the shrimp bounty. Fresh Gulf shrimp is about as tasty a cooking ingredient as you can find! Without shrimp, a chain of disasters may occur that impact the whole planet!
"Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it"— Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump's Shrimp Quote...
Well, no, that's not about it. There are thousands of recipes calling for shrimp. But the truth in that quote is that "shrimp is the fruit of the sea". Like fruit on land, all sea creatures benefit from shrimp. It's the part of the food chain that we can't do without. If we lose the fruit trees, we will lose life on earth. If we lose the fruit of the sea, we will lose life in the oceans.
Fresh Gulf Shrimp
How to buy fresh shrimp
There are over 300 species of shrimp in the world. Prawns are not shrimp, but are used the same way. Each variety of shrimp has its own unique texture and taste. Gulf shrimp are usually medium sized and have a good strong shrimp flavor. Shrimp are in season from May to October and 95% of the shrimp caught come from the warm waters of the South Atlantic and Gulf states.
Buy shrimp that is fresh and clean. It must only smell of salt water and a mild shrimp-like scent. Shrimp must not be mushy, smelly, or slimy. Fresh shrimp should be on wet ice and will only last about two days. After that, it should be frozen in the shell but without the heads. The shell protects the meat and helps to keep the flavor of the shrimp intact. Frozen shrimp is the next best thing to fresh, but avoid frozen shelled shrimp.
Avoid using shrimp with black spots unless it is Tiger Shrimp. Look for shrimp that is translucent. Shrimp only turns pink after cooking. Before then is is sort of whitish gray and semi-transparent. If there is any hint of ammonia, avoid buying the pack.
Jumbo shrimp and other oxymorons
Why do they call it Jumbo Shrimp?
It's the size of the shrimp that counts. Jumbo shrimp means that on average, there are 23 actual shrimps per pound. Extra colossal shrimps are 5 to a pound. Then there is colossal at 9-14 shrimps per pound, and about 18 extra jumbo shrimps will weigh out at a pound. These giant shrimps are good for barbecuing, grilling, shrimp cocktails, and display type hors devours.
The next class down are the extra large shrimp (28 to a pound) and large (33 to a pound). This size is best for gumbos, jambalayas, soups, stews, seafood boils, battered and pan fried.
After that come the medium, small, and extra small shrimp sizes at 45/lb, 55/lb, and 65/lb respectively. Good sizes for shrimp salads!
To devein or not devein, that is the question
Deveining shrimp is optional. The vein in the back of a shrimp is its alimentary canal. The vein can contain some grit, especially in larger shrimp. My preference is to devein the larger shrimps and leave it in for the smaller sizes. Buy a shrimp deveiner, it's much easier to use than a sharp knife.
Brining Shrimp Improves the taste
Soaking fresh shrimp in a brine solution before cooking will improve the taste of your shrimp dish. It also makes the meat firmer and more moist.
How to brine shrimp:
1/4 cup kosher or
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 cups ice
Stir salt and sugar into boiling water until dissolved; pour into large bowl filled with ice; add up to 2 pounds raw shrimp. Let sit in the brine, refrigerated for 20 to 60 minutes (small shrimp - 20 min. larger shrimp need more time proportionately). Remove shrimp from brine and drain thoroughly. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly under cold water and dry on paper towels. Refrigerate the raw brined shrimp until ready to use in your recipe.
This means devil shrimps in English! We have discovered the world's best way to enjoy shrimp. We even have a shrimp diablo club. Once you've eaten one of these puppies, your life will change.
Buy 20 to 50 (we have been known to make 100 at a batch) Jalepeño peppers. Choose large ones that kind of look like bell peppers and are fresh and green and crunchy.
Prepare an equal number of medium to large shrimp (deveined and brined and cold).
Get about two cups of shredded cheddar cheese and some raw bacon - about 4-5 packs of thin sliced.
Now chop off the top of the jalepenos and with a coring tool, scrape out the seeds and membranes. Wash the peppers to remove all the seeds (this is where the heat is). Drain them well.
Assemble your diablos:
- stuff the cored jalepenos with a shrimp and some cheese
- lay a half slice of bacon over the open top
- wrap the whole thing with another slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick
- smoke the diablos on low heat for about an hour or two until the bacon is fully cooked
- turn them frequently and use indirect heat - a smoker is best
Eat and enjoy! You may occasionally bite into a diablo that is still hot enough to give you a tonsillectomy, but hey, it's good! Have some fritos handy to take the heat away.
© 2010 Austinstar