Nutrition NotesIn the past shrimp have been a cholesterol counters no-no. We now know that dietary cholesterol doesn't affect blood cholesterol levels as much as saturated and trans fats do. So shrimp lovers can enjoy, in moderation of course. A three-ounce serving of shrimp contains 84 calories, 0.9 grams total fat, 0.3 grams saturated fat and 166 mg of cholesterol. Shrimp are also a source of dietary protein, iron (2.6 mg/3 oz.) and selenium.
There are hundreds of shrimp species, most of which can be divided into two saltwater categories - warm-water shrimp and cold-water shrimp. As a general rule, the colder the water, the smaller and more succulent the shrimp. Shrimp come in many colours including reddish- to light brown, pink, deep red, grayish-white, yellow, gray-green and dark green. Some shells are mottled or have striations or stripes on them. Raw and unshelled shrimp are called "green shrimp."
Shrimp can be found fresh, frozen, canned, with shells or without. There are also many prepared shrimp products available such as breaded or stuffed, frozen shrimp that are ready to heat and eat. Be sure to read labels carefully and keep your portion sizes small, as prepared products tend to contain large amounts of fat, saturated fat and calories.
Black Tiger shrimp: With very firm-texture meat, these shrimp are very easy to work with. These shrimp, especially those raised in low salinity water, tend to be milder than ocean-caught shrimp. Black tiger shrimp are widely available year-round and can easily be identified by their black outer shells.
Crawfish: There are many names for this freshwater crustacean including crayfish, crawdad and mudbug. It looks like a tiny-clawed lobster and is found worldwide except in Africa. Most crawfish weight 1-3 ounces. Raw crawfish must be alive when they are cooked because the meat in a dead crawfish spoils quickly. Choose ones that are very active, not limp and immobile. Their meat is sweet and succulent.
Prawns: Basically this is just another name for shrimp. There is a great deal of confusion about this term because it's used to describe several different shellfish.
Rock shrimp: These deep-sea critters have an exceptionally hard shell but their meat is particularly prized for its lobster-like texture and flavor. Because they're so hard to peel, most rock shrimp is sold as peeled raw meat.
BuyingShrimp are generally sold by size, depending on how many make up a pound. For instance, it takes 36-45 small shrimp to make up a pound. Raw shrimp should smell of the sea with no hint of ammonia. Cooked, shelled shrimp should look plump and succulent, not dried out.
StoringBefore storing uncooked shrimp, rinse them under cold, running water and drain thoroughly. Tightly cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Cooked shrimp can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Freeze shrimp for up to 3 months. Thaw shrimp in the refrigerator in its freezer wrapping or baggie. Or place package in cold water until defrosted.
Shrimp can take a bit of time to prepare but they are well worth it. It's important to carefully time cooking shrimp as they can easily become tough and overcooked.
Peeling: For tiny shrimp, discard the heads and remove the shell with your fingers. For jumbo shrimp or prawns, use scissors to cut each side of the undershell, them peel back the shell to reach the meat. For large shrimp: pull the head (if still attached) from the body, leaving the tail meat intact. Peel off the shell with your fingers, leaving the tail flange or tip on if you like.
Deveining: Whether or not to devein shrimp is a matter of personal preference. In general, small and medium shrimp do not need deveining except for cosmetic purposes. Because the intestinal vein of larger shrimp contains grit, it should be removed. To do so, make a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp. Remove the dark intestinal vein that runs along the back, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Butterflying: First peel them, then make a full-length cut along the backs, about halfway through the flesh. Remove the dark intestinal vein that runs along the back and open out the shrimp for cooking.
Baking: Wrap peeled shrimp in parchment or foil packets. To bake until just done - about five minutes, or according to the recipe.
Boiling: Cook shrimp at a rolling boil. For extra flavor, use fish stock instead of plain water, or add a few lemon wedges to the water. Or you can use a seafood boil spice powder to punch up the taste.
Broiling/Grilling: Shrimp, in or out of the shell, can be grilled on skewers or broiled in the oven. Use a marinade or a basting sauce to keep the shrimp moist as they cook.
Microwaving: Cooking shrimp this way keeps them moist and it's super fast. Place shrimp (preferably in the shell) on a plate with their thicker portions to the outside; cover with plastic wrap.
Steaming: This is an excellent fat-free method for cooking shrimp. Steam in a collapsible steamer or steaming rack until they turn pink.
Stir-frying: Remove the shrimp from the wok as soon as they are done. Stir-fry any other ingredients in the wok separately, then return the shrimp to the pan briefly to reheat just before serving.
Shrimp cocktail: Poach the shrimp with their shells in a vegetable stock or water for about 10 minutes. Drop the shrimp into the boiling stock. Cover, barely bring back to a boil, then remove from the heat. Allow the shrimp to cool in the liquid where they will take on the flavor of the stock. Peel shrimp and serve on ice with lemon wedges and your favorite cocktail sauce.
There are many classic and delicious shrimp dishes including shrimp cocktail, shrimp scampi, shrimp bisque, butterflied and stuffed shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp salad, shrimp tempura, shrimp gumbo, shrimp Creole, and paella.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Shrimp:
- Toss some baby shrimp into omelettes and frittatas.
- Shrimp cocktail can be served as a brunch treat.
- Leftover cooked shrimp on toast is great when youÃ¯Â¿Â½re in a rush.
- Include smaller salad shrimp in green and pasta salads.
- Add some cooked shrimp to clear soups.
- Wrap it up by trying cooked shrimp in your lunchtime wrap. Just remember to keep your sandwich refrigerated until itÃ¯Â¿Â½s time to eat.
- A creamy shrimp bisque makes an elegant start to any meal.
- Use shrimp in stir-fries, noodle dishes and casseroles.
- Large or jumbo shrimp on the barbecue are a delicious treat.
- Go classic and serve garlicky shrimp scampi for a special occasion.
- Feeling some culinary ambition? Try your hand at the Spanish dish of paella.
FYI: Jumbo shrimp are also called by their Spanish name - gambas.
Did you know? The prawn or shrimp crackers you find in Asian markets are made by pounding the shrimp into a paste, cutting into circles and then letting them dry.
For More Information:
- Bubba Gup Shrimp Company
- Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board
- Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival
- Shrimp Recipes
- Simply Seafood
- The Great Prawn and Shrimp Cookbook, Edited by Whitecap Books, available September 2003.
- Totally Shrimp by Helene Siegel, Celestial Arts Publishing Company, 1997.
- Strictly Shrimp: A Passionate Guide to the World's Favorite Seafood by A.D. Livingston, Burford Books, 2001.
- How to Cook Shrimp and Other Shellfish by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Boston Common Press, 1999.
- Ultimate Shrimp Book: More than 700 Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Seafood Prepared in Every Way Imaginable, by Bruce Weinstein, Harper Collins, 2002.