Available nearly year-round, shrimp represent North Carolina’s second most valuable commercial fishery in terms of dollars. Once scorned by fishermen for clogging their nets while trawling for more valuable fish, shrimp came into their own in the 1950s and has been the country’s favorite seafood for decades. It’s small, but it’s versatile, and cooks around the country quickly found a variety of ways to put their own spin on it. Whether you have a friend who comes in with a catch or you visit the local corner fish market for your serving, shrimp is a great addition to a well-balanced, healthy diet. Protein rich and a great source of selenium, the crustacean has no saturated fat, making it a great option for everyone.
It is Eastern North Carolina’s diverse estuaries that make it ideal for shrimp. Infants thrive in marsh areas where they are easily hidden from predators and have easy access to plenty of food themselves. They grow quickly, almost doubling in size every few weeks. Three types of shrimp call the state home, brown, pink and white, however, brown are most plentiful along the southern and central coast, accounting for about 67 percent of the state’s overall harvest each year.
Whether you’re going to grill, fry, bake, boil or stir fry, the best place to start is with the freshest seafood possible. When shopping for shrimp, they should have a mild aroma of salt water, but shouldn’t have a fishy or chemical smell. The shell should feel firm, yet not slippery. Be sure that there are not any visible black patches on the shell or the meat, which indicates that the less than fresh and beginning to break down. Shrimp come in a variety of shades and can be grayish in color, pink/tan or a very light pink.
It also comes in a variety of sizes, which are referred to by a number or “count.” This figure represents the average number of shrimp you get per pound. For example, a 16/20 count shrimp is larger than a 26/30.
Most markets will handle the dirty work for you, but cleaning shrimp isn’t nearly as tedious as cleaning fish. It can be purchased with heads on or off, with a difference in cost, of course. The task, however, can easily be done at home. Before you begin cooking, remove the heads and shells to discard. Some skip the process, especially for smaller shrimp, but deveining can also be part of the cleaning process. The vein that runs down the back of the shrimp is its digestive tract, and while edible, it can be a little gritty while eating. Special tools are designed to help the process, but it can easily be removed with a paring knife, by slitting down the back and lifting it up with the tip of the knife. Give them a nice cool rinse after cleaning to remove any remaining shell pieces.
Shrimp can be cooked in a variety of ways – they’re great in a little garlic butter and poured over noodles, but they’re just as good skewered and grilled. Keep in mind that shrimp cook fast and if overcooked they can become tough and chewy. Regardless of how you’re cooking them, 3-5 minutes is about all it takes.
If you plan to grill, keep in mind that dry shrimp take a char better. Pat dry the water from the shrimp before grilling and brush them with a little herbed olive oil. When you put them on the grill, press them down slightly to make sure the entire skewer makes contact with the grill.
If grilling isn’t your route – here are a few additional recipes to try:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup celery, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
- 1 1/2 lbs shrimp
- Fresh parsley to garnish
Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan over low heat and saute celery and onion until tender. Add cayenne pepper, thyme, marjoram and flour and stir until smooth. Add milk and condensed soup and stir until piping hot. Meanwhile clean and chop seafood as you like. Cut larger shrimp in half or thirds. Add when soup is hot and stir over medium heat until seafood is cooked through. Serve in bowls topped with some fresh parsley. Bread bowls work great, too.
Spicy Shrimp & Pasta
- Tbsp. butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
- 9 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked
- 16 oz. mild salsa, thick and chunky
- 2 lbs shrimp, cleaned
- 1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 12 by 8 inch baking pan. Combine the eggs, half-and-half, yogurt, Swiss and feta cheeses, parsley, basil and oregano in a large bowl, mixing until thoroughly blended. Spread 1/2 of the cooked pasta evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover the pasta with the salsa. Add 1/2 of the shrimp and then cover it with Monterey Jack. Add the remaining pasta and shrimp.
Spread the egg mixture over top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Garlic Shrimp Stir Fry
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 cup sweet peppers, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 (9-ounce) packet stir fry seasoning pkt.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat adding peppers, onions and carrots to cook slowly until tender. Add pepper flakes and garlic, cooking for an additional minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the reserved tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add shrimp when hot, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is no longer translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the veggies back to the pan and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the stir fry sauce. Continue to cook about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp. water
- 2 lbs medium size shrimp
Blend soy sauce, sugar, oil, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and water in a small pan. Heat on simmer, stirring until thick. Coat shrimp with soy sauce and place on grill or broiler rack, cooking for 3 minutes per side.
- 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fettuccine
- 1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- 3 tbsp. cream cheese
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Cook the pasta and drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Combine shrimp, onions and garlic in a small bowl. Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil; and shrimp and sauté for until shrimp are done. Remove shrimp and set aside. Add reserved cooking liquid, cheese, half-and-half and pepper. Cook until cheese melts. Combine pasta, cheese mixture and shrimp. Garnish with parsley.
- 1 lb. shrimp
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 cup sweetened coconut
- 3 egg whites, beaten until foamy
Preheat an oven to 400° and spray baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Rinse and dry cleaned shrimp with paper towels. Mix cornstarch, salt and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl and place coconut flakes in a separate bowl or plate. Dredge shrimp individually in the corn starch mixture, then dip in egg white and roll in the coconut, being sure to cover it entirely. Place on baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes, flipping half way. They should be bright pink on the outside.
Shrimp Fried Rice
- 1 lb uncooked shrimp
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
- 5 cups cooked leftover, cold rice, rinsed to avoid stickiness.
- 1 1/2 cups frozen carrots and peas, defrosted
- 2 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat a large nonstick skillet on high heat. When a bead of water sizzles and evaporates, swirl in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil than add shrimp and spread them out in a single layer. Cook about 1 minute each side, or until cooked through and no longer opaque. Remove to a bowl. Over medium heat, add eggs to the same skillet. Break up the eggs with a spatula and cook until no longer runny. Remove to a bowl. Wipe down the skillet with a paper towel and return to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and green onions, cooking until soft. Add rice and mix well, then spread evenly over pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until rice begins to sizzle. Drizzle 2 tablespoon soy sauce over rice and stir well. Add sesame oil and vegetables and mix. Add cooked shrimp and cooked eggs to the pan and mix well. Continue to cook until the rice is hot and sizzles, stirring frequently. Add another tablespoon of soy sauce to taste, if desired.
(Courtesy of Natashaskitchen.com)