"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maine Shrimp Are Divine

It's Maine shrimp season!!!! Sound the bells!

I am very lucky sometimes to live in New England. Every single time I eat or buy astounding, fresh seafood is one of those times. I am a seafood fanatic from the cradle, raised to believe that those who eat lobster and shrimp, and milky, tender scallops are having a better time.

This is my third season eating Maine shrimp. I first found out about them on Chowhound, source of so many good edible pearls of wisdom. Someone was raving about them and mentioned off-hand that many of the Whole Foods Markets up and down the coast carry them in season. I have been on the prowl ever since. The season is erratic as are most things dependent on weather and the whims of God but they usually show up at the seafood counter somewhere in the time from December to April or so.

Maine shrimp aren't actually shrimp at all, they're tiny little prawns that are beautiful and extremely delicious. The flesh is tender to the extreme, bright coral pink when raw, unlike the thick gray bodied shrimp from The Gulf. The are often sold head on, with their long whiskers needling through the pile. The skins are very delicate and thin, super easy to peel, and they cook extremely fast. They really require little more than a gentle toss in a hot pan of butter and garlic. I try to go light on the seasonings with Maine shrimp because they are a unique flavor all on their own. The meat is sweet and just a touch briny, almost like very tender, sugared lobster. These little creatures are also wild, not farmed and sustainably harvested by local fishermen during a specific window of time which means they are a much better eco-option than the big meaty shrimp coming in from Vietnam. They are also handily only about 2-6 dollars a pound.

These babies get eaten in quantity in season, ala sweet corn in August. These fleeting food treasures get no better than the now. We have heaping plates of them with just a drizzle of butter or a sprinkle of garlic to set them off. Mostly, its just shells and shells and shells and hands on munching with a few restrained bundles socked away in the back of the freezer. I bet they'd make amazing ceviche, and I also need to try cooking the shells down for stock (bisque anyone?) w/ some roasted onions and carrots. Mmmmm......plotting my next trip to the seafood counter.
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