Gulf of Maine Shrimp - 2008/2009
Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:21 AM
Celebrating Maine's Sweet Taste of Winter
Last night, my friend Roxanne called asking if Iíd like to go with her to get some fresh Maine shrimp. Last winter, we would go quite often, but so far this winter Iíve been reluctant to take on the job of cleaning pounds and pounds of fresh whole shrimp by myself. One person can only eat so many and I havenít had good luck freezing them.
So, I agreed. I brought $2 with me so I would limit my purchase to just two pounds and derail my normal dockside over-purchasing habit. At 5:30 we pulled into the parking lot at the Camp Ellis jetty, just as dusk was quickly turning to night. The boat was steaming towards us, about 300 yards from the shore. As the skipper was dislodging several large ice floes keeping the boat from being able to be tied up, I could see the beautiful shrimp in their tubs at the aft of the boat. The diesels wound down, the tubs were hoisted to the dock, and the captain plopped down his trusty scale on the tailgate of his pickup truck.
Waiting patiently, two old men were swinging their empty 5 gallon buckets, discussing their favorite cooking methods. I had all I could do not to jump into the conversation when one wished he had a better way to fry them. I didnít think my version (heads removed, shell and tail on, egg wash and panko coating served with a glob of Asian sweet chili sauce) was going to make either of them pat themselves down for a pen and paper on which to capture such a outlandish recipe. Not either of these two old Mainers. Nah, boiling was their preferred way and they were sticking to it.
Another interesting person was ambling about the dock, and if Roxanne hadnít greeted her saying, ďHello Alice,Ē I would have had to flip a coin if you had asked me to guess her gender. Turns out Alice had big plans for her evening Ė peeling 100 pounds of shrimp that she resells at $6 a pound. She said she has a young girl helping her, but it will take her all night and into the next morning (and at least one or two packs of smokes) to get them all shelled. The captain filled her 4 pails first and loaded them into the trunk of her Toyota Corolla. Wonder what that will smell like once the warm weather returns!
Anyway, by the time I got my meager 5 pound haul home (Roxanne lent me $3, because I was too embarrassed to ask for only two pounds), it was getting late and I had a pizza planned to go into the oven. Pizza with leftover white clam sauce, onions, fresh mushrooms and jalapeno slices! I thought I could hurriedly peel a bunch and toss them on my pizza in the final moments of cooking, but peeling them was more laborious then I remembered.
Maybe it was the way the shrimp were still dancing in the bag that made it hard to peel them. I prepped two vessels, one for the heads that was destined for the stove top for a nice stock and the other for the peeled bodies. The first one was a bear to peel completely, but I had to sample the sweet meat, laden with roe, that had been in the ocean only an hour earlier. Yum! I ate about ten this way, and then set about the task of filling my bowls. I compromised and kept the shells on the bodies for sake of expediency and Ĺ hour later had three pounds of shell-on shrimp ready. I thought maybe an overnight rest in the fridge might let death settle into their bodies making them easier to peel today (and I think they are).
These shrimp are a small consolation prize for enduring everything else a Maine winter throws your way, but there is no substitute for their sweet meat! All is forgiven.
Posted 14 December 2009 - 06:15 PM
Posted 14 December 2009 - 09:11 PM
My local Whole Foods was selling them today, same price. When I bought mine, I inquired, and the guy behind the counter said they'd started selling them only recently and that demand had been surprisingly high.
Got my first Maine shrimp of the season at Whole Foods tonight, $3.99/pound. I cooked them for about a minute, then had them with a dipping sauce of lemon, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and scallion. Now I'm wishing I bought more!
Only a little lemon and salt with mine, but oh so tasty. It never ceases to surprise me how flavorful these little guys are. Inspired by jonhnyd's picture above with the avocado, I'm thinking about a ceviche next--when something is this fresh, makes sense.
Posted 28 December 2009 - 01:01 PM
In other news, here is a story on the seasonal clogging of the Portland sewers with Maine shrimp parts.
- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845