Shrimp is a low calorie and very healthy food, until it is breaded and deep fried. It is high in vitamins and minerals and low in saturated fat. Shrimp cooks in as little as three minutes, making it an excellent candidate for quick and delicious seafood dishes.
Most shrimp purchased in the United States are frozen. Fresh shrimp begins to deteriorate before processors and shippers can ship it to far away markets.
Fresh shrimp is rare unless you live in the Gulf region or the Southeastern Coastal areas of the United States. The good news is that frozen shrimp retains both flavor and nutrition. Frozen shrimp is available all year.
Thawed shrimp will only keep for a couple of days before it begins to go bad. It is best to avoid shrimp that has been deveined and peeled at the grocery store. Most likely the shrimp came to the supermarket in a frozen five pound block.
Look for shrimp with firm white meat and shells that are full. The shrimp should smell of saltwater and remind you of the ocean.
Asian Black Tiger shrimp have black markings. Other shrimp you purchase should have no discoloration. Black spots on shrimp indicate the meat is breaking down. Beware of shrimp with a yellowish tint or a gritty feeling as the shrimp may have been bleached with sodium bisulfite. Raw shrimp with a pinkish hue could taste of iodine. Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral found in shrimp.
American markets provide us with several varieties of shrimp. Many consumers believe the tastiest shrimp are Gulf white shrimp. Mexican white shrimp or Ecuadorian shrimp are similar to Gulf white. Ecuadorean shrimp are primarily farm-raised. Most shrimp sold in the United States comes from Ecuador.
Exotic shrimp such as Black Tiger shrimp are farm-raised in Asia. They are dark grey in color with black stripes. Black Tiger shrimp is very firm and flavorful. Chinese White is another Asian farm-raised shrimp. It has a gray tint and a mild texture.
Rock shrimp from the southern states, the mid-Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico can be difficult to peel. Rock shrimp found at the seafood market is often peeled and precooked.
The number of shrimp in a pound determines the size of the shrimp. Frozen shrimp packages tell the consumer how many shrimp the packet contains. The fewer shrimp in the package the larger the shrimp. Package descriptions such as ‘Jumbo shrimp’ or ‘prawn’ labels are of no great significance because they are unregulated.
True prawns are a type of crustacean such as the French langoustine, and they are no relation to shrimp. Large shrimp may be more expensive than small or medium varieties, but the taste and nutrition is the same for all sizes of shrimp.