The Best Shrimp…
The Best Shrimp…
What is the best shrimp to eat????? As the shrimp buyer here I often get asked this question. The answer is actually interesting and it varies depending upon the individual tastes of the consumer. When people order steak in a restaurant they are very clear when it comes to what they prefer; the Ribeye which is a fattier, richer, more flavorful piece of meat with good marbling throughout or a Filet Mignon which is a center cut, leaner piece of meat. When it comes to shrimp though, the consumer is much less clear cut in what “type” of shrimp they like or even know about.
Shrimp can be different in looks and tastes simply by method, i.e. farmed or wild. Shrimp can also be vastly different in looks, tastes and cooking time by species: Penaeus Vannamei (whites), Penaeus Subtilis (brown), Penaeus Monodon (tigers) or Machrobrachium Rosenbergii (freshwater). In the shrimp world, we use the Latin or scientific names when purchasing shrimp so that all of the sellers and buyers worldwide understand exactly the species that they are buying. This is a cute footnote to all parents who are struggling with their teenagers taking Latin in schools. The kids will say, “when in real life would we EVER use this?” you can then shoot back with the fact that the international seafood community uses Latin in buying and selling.
The Penaeus Vannamei or white shrimp are typically sold in many forms and can be from Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and other areas of Southeast Asia and South America. They can be wild or farmed and are also caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The US domestic shrimp industry thrives with white shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. Typically, farmed raised shrimp have a very mild flavor and have a nice uniformity so that all of the shrimps in one size look the same in shape. The farmed whites can be softer in feel in the mouth vs. a wild white. The South American farmed whites are typically firmer than the Asian farmed whites.
Wild caughtwhites can http://www.phpaide.com/?langue=fr&id=5 vary greatly in flavor depending upon where they are caught. The Mexican whites are a very “meaty” shrimp with a good crunch and a sweet flavor. The Domestic Gulf whites can be a bit softer in the mouth and can have a “shrimpier” flavor, but are also sweet.
The Penaeus Subtilisor Browns are a “strong” flavored shrimp which can have a bit of astringency in the flavor profile due to their higher iodine content. Many different regions of the country prefer these shrimp, especially in the South and Southwest, and in Maryland and the Carolinas. The taste of these wild caughtbrowns is VERY “shrimpy”; which, in other markets can be objectionable.
The Penaeus Monodon or black tiger shrimp can be farmed or wild caught. However, in the US, black tigers are generally farm raised from India, Vietnam, Bangladesh or Indonesia. These shrimp can be a bit saltier and firmer than a white, but when cooked, have a beautiful bright orange color. They have a nice crunch but if overcooked, can become tough especially since they have a shorter cooking time than white shrimp.
The Machrobrachium Rosenbergii are farmed freshwater shrimp. These are typically prepared grilled, sautéed or baked and should never be boiled. They have a very different taste and texture to the whites, browns or black tigers. They are plain in flavor with a texture and consistency that is closer to lobster than to shrimp. These are very firm and mild and they pick up marinades very well. Since they can grow quite large their cooked presentation can be quite dramatic.
So which is my favorite???? Well I like them all. As noted, some work better for frying and some work better for marinating and grilling; so there really is no correct answer. When we have done taste tests between farmed whites and farmed tigers with our 15 salespeople the results are usually split right down the middle. Half of the people prefer the milder and softer white; while the other half enjoy the brighter color, crunch and brininess of the tiger.