Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crustacean Nation

I have probably eaten more shrimp in my life than the average person because I lived in South Louisiana for many years.  I can categorically state that Gulf shrimp's taste and quality is far superior to its Asian (Thailand, China, Vietnam) counterparts.  Before the tragic oil spill of 2010, about 70% of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. came from the Gulf of Mexico.  The crawfish, crabs, and shrimp that Louisiana supplies earn it the title of Crustacean Nation in my book!

Now that I live in Texas, obtaining good quality shrimp is a little more of a challenge.  Fortunately, parts of Texas are on the Gulf of Mexico, too, so we often have access to high quality shrimp even here in land-locked Dallas.  The price, though, is significantly higher than what we used to pay in Louisiana.

Believe it or not, whenever we drive to South Louisiana, we take a couple large coolers and bring back fresh shrimp.   We go to an open-air market in Westwego on New Orleans' Westbank where fishermen directly sell fish, crabs, and shrimp to the consumer.

The last time we bought shrimp there (over a year ago--before the spill), we paid $2.50 a pound for 16/20 count heads-on shrimp.  (The 16/20 count means that there are between 16 and 20 shrimp to the pound).  The more you buy, the better deal you get.  We normally buy about 50 pounds, but when we lived in Louisiana, we used to buy more.

The best way to freeze shrimp is to de-head them (keep the shells on, though), load them into quart-sized Ziplock freezer bags (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per bag) and fill the bags with water.  Then lay the bags flat on a sheet tray and pop them in the freezer.  When the individual bags are frozen, load several bags into a gallon-sized Ziplock freezer bag for extra protection.

Shrimp frozen in this manner taste fresh many, many months later.  I am just finishing the shrimp we got over a year ago, and they are still high quality in both taste and texture.  To defrost, plug your sink and fill halfway with tepid water.  Slit the ziptop bags and let the shrimp thaw in the water, stirring occasionally to separate.

Today I made Louisiana shrimp with Asian flavors.  This is an interesting twist on traditional boiled shrimp cocktail.  Don't skip the homemade mayonnaise--it's delish!

Asian Boiled Shrimp
Slightly adapted from Emeril's Potluck by Emeril Lagasse
(click here to print)

Boiling Liquid
One 2-inch piece of peeled ginger root, sliced
3 lemons, halved, juiced (reserve shells)
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
1/4 cup sugar
4 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions (about 2 onions)
2 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
6 cups water

Combine all ingredients in  a heavy saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.

Sprinkle 2 lbs. shelled and deveined Gulf shrimp with 2 tsp. Emeril's Essence (find recipe here)

Add shrimp to the boiling water.  Cook for exactly 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the shrimp steep for an additional 2 minutes.  You do not want to cook the shrimp longer or they will be rubbery.

Drain the shrimp and chill thoroughly.  Serve with Asian mayonnaise as a dipping sauce:

Asian Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. minced garlic (about 1 small clove)
1 tsp. green onion
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and green onions in food processor.  Process until combined.  SLOWLY add the oil through the feed tube while the motor is running so that it makes an emulsion (thickens).  Add soy sauce, cilantro, pepper, sesame oil, and salt.  Pulse a couple of times to combine.  Remove to bowl and chill thoroughly.  Let stand a couple of hours for best flavor, but use within 24 hours.

C'est Bon, Cher!

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Lisa said...

Hi Vicki,
I am so glad to read this post from a Southerner who obviously knows her stuff about shrimp!!! I cannot believe your experience with going to that market and buying 2 coolers full of shrimp - 50 lbs. or more!! That is so wild to me and I would love to have access to a shrimp market like that!
Also I will need to pay closer attention to where my shrimp (and everything else I buy really) comes from.
The recipes for both boiled shrimp and homemade mayo both look amazing and I will definitely try them! Thank you so much for linking these recipes to Mangia Mondays!

Cindy said...

We do love shrimp, but living in land locked Utah we usually resort to Costco for our seafood needs!
Hubby did spend a week in Alaska on a fishing boat. He brought back delicious shrimp, salmon and halibut. I was sad to see to all gone.
I have a yummy shrimp and corn quesadilla recipe on my blog. It is so good. We had good corn on the cob today so it will be on the menu this week.
Have a great day.

Gypsy Heart said...

Oh my ~ I'm salivating here! I adore seafood and this shrimp looks to die for. LOVE the flavors of Louisiana ~ nothing better! My Dad always lived in Houston and went fishing/shrimping out in the bay constantly. I didn't live with them but I do believe that's where my love of seafood began. I could have it daily and never tire of it. Thanks for sharing the recipe ~ will definitely try it!


The Café Sucré Farine said...

Yum! This sounds absolutely fabulous, sure wish I had some right now - and that dipping sauce looks amazing! Thanks, Chris

ps I love your blog, you and I have a lot in common!

Paula {Salad in a Jar} said...

We are the condiment family according to my daughter-in-law so I am quite interested in the mayo. Sounds interesting.

I also noticed you have a food processor that looks exactly like mine--only much better cared for. I've had it for probably 25 yrs. Yikes!

Vicki V @ said...

Paula, you must have put the jinx on me, because my food processor's blade kept riding up when I tried to chop parmesan with it tonight. Hopefully it was a fluke? I even tried cutting the parmesan into small pieces and adding it gradually, to no avail. BTW, I got my food processor at a TX garage sale for $20! It was almost new.

Amanda-The Sweet Details said...

Hey! I host a blog hop and would LOVE it if you came over and linked up! Here’s the link :)