Firm, Flavorful, Fresh Shrimp
Shrimp, "the fruit of the sea," is a versatile, popular shellfish that is very easy to work with. Shrimp is popular served cold, as a shrimp cocktail. Of course, it is also often cooked into recipes.
You can buy gourmet shrimp with the shell on or peeled and deveined. Peeled and deveined shrimp have had all non-edible materials removed and are ready to cook or eat. Some connoisseurs may like to buy whole shrimp (that is, not peeled and deveined), though this is not necessary or popular.
Shrimp are most often sold by the "count," indicating the number of shrimp per pound. The count gives you a good idea of the size of the shrimp. For example, a count of 16 to 20 shrimp per pound is a nice size jumbo shrimp. Counts can range as high as 500 for salad shrimp.
General types of shrimp ranging from the highest to lowest counts are:
- salad shrimp
- regular shrimp
- jumbo shrimp
- tiger shrimp
Uncooked shrimp is gray with bluish or reddish tints. It turns a lively pink once it is cooked.
By far the most popular shrimp are shrimp from the Gulf States, especially Louisiana. Prawns and scampi are sometimes used interchangeably with the word "shrimp." However, prawns are usually much larger than regular or even jumbo shrimp, and scampi is thinner and finer.
Jumbo and regular shrimp are most popular as cocktail shrimp. Gourmets love to jazz up sauces and gravies with salad shrimp.
Shrimp is usually flash-frozen soon after it is caught, a process locking in freshness. Frozen shrimp can be kept for several months, as long as they are well-wrapped to avoid freezer burn. Shrimp makes a unique gourmet gift, and frozen or fresh shrimp can be shipped anywhere in the continental U.S.