the best shrimp I ever had

I had to chance to try these shrimp from the Wedge Co-op in Uptown when I volunteered to make some food for a friend’s birthday party. The menu was teriyaki chicken and shrimp spring rolls. I hadn’t had time to go to grocery shopping so I went to the Co-op that was near their place and bought most of the groceries there. I remember the bill being excessive, something around the range of $60 for what would’ve ended up being around $20-30 at a traditional super market. I’ll say this though, these were the best damn chicken yakitori and spring rolls I’ve ever made and I attribute it all to the quality of ingredients I found at the co-op and would happily pay the premium once my budget allows for it.

The shrimps are a little on the small size if you are used to larger shelled shrimp, about half the size of a normal cocktail shrimp. They come de-shelled and cleaned. They are called “Laughing Bird Shrimp” and are farm-raised sustainably in Belize. I steamed this in a steaming basket just until they turned pink. When I tasted them, whatever amount I ended up paying (I think something like 14.99 a pound) went out the window and all I could think of was how sweet these were. The texture was perfect too, they have a very satisfying unadulterated bursty shrimp texture (I don’t really know what the word for it is but it’s something I look for in every shrimp I eat). I do know that a lot of the shrimp that is sold in the US are treated with phosphates so that they retain more water. What happens is this lends to a weird translucent color and squeaky watery texture and taste that is epitomized in those ready to eat cocktail shrimp or in many frozen pre-made shrimp products. I find that this is more common in pre-shelled and cleaned shrimp you find at the supermarket. That’s why I always try to get whole shrimp with the shell and head from the asian grocery store. Those usually do not tend to be treated with phosphates based on my experience. Anyway, that was my rant on shrimp. I take shrimp very seriously! It’s one of my favorite things to eat and I will recommend to anyone to seek these out and try it for yourself!!!

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shrimp curry

This is kind of like my secret recipe (shhhhhhhhhh). It’s my variation on shrimp curry that is traditional in Burmese cuisine. Some versions have tomatoes but mine doesn’t. The key to the rich flavors in this dish is that I get whole shrimp with the head on. When you peel the shell and carapace, save the guts inside the heads aka shrimp mustard (or crab butter or lobster tamale in the case of other crustaceans). This is what gives the really creamy flavor and red color to the dish.

Start with caramelizing some onions with some oil. Add some peppers (whatever you have on hand) for some heat if you’d like. Keep everything on low-med heat.
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I think I also put in some garlic as well. Not entirely necessary. Stir frequently so that the onions don’t burn. Sometimes I put a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (japanese spice mix) spice which is untraditional in this dish but I like the heat and color that it gives. If you don’t have that some paprika or cayenne pepper will do to add some color.
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Once the onions are well caramelized add the shrimp, the shrimp mustard, and let it chill. Do not stir!
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You’ll see that the shrimp will turn on the bottom side and once it is about pink halfway through body. Turn the shrimp over. Add some cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the residual heat finish cooking the shrimp so you don’t overcook them.
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ABC Seafood Restaurant (St Petersburg)

This is one of the places my family goes to for good Chinese food. It’s a half hour drive from where we live but we really don’t have a choice since there are a lack of good Chinese food options in Sarasota area.

fish tanks (ABC seafood)

Salt and pepper calamari

salt and pepper calamari (ABC seafood)

Salt and pepper shrimp (See how to make it here)

salt and pepper shrimp (ABC seafood)

Seafood pan fried noodles

seafood pan fried noodles (ABC seafood)

Pipa Tofu

special braised tofu (ABC seafood)

Red bean soup dessert

red bean desert soup (ABC seafood)

Salt and pepper shrimp!

One of my favorite things to eat. Head, shell, and tail. A good Chinese seafood restaurant will have a live tank with shrimp, they’re pretty small since the shell will be more delicate and it’s easier to eat everything. The ones I get from the store near me are from the Gulf of Mexico. They’re a little bit bigger than the ones that restaurants serve. Not a problem for me, I just want some shrimp!
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The first thing you want to do is take a pair of kitchen shears and trim the antennae, rostrum (the pointy part on the head, be careful not to stick yourself), and the eyes if they make you queasy…
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Then just dust the shrimp with some flour (rice, all-purpose, either will do), salt, and pepper. Be liberal with the pepper. You can use a zip-loc bag or a plastic container and tumble the shrimp with the seasonings.
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Then fry the shrimp in some oil, something neutral like vegetable or peanut oil until the outside turns pink. This and the carry over heat is enough to cook the shrimp all the way through.
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You can serve them as is with rice or if you’re a little more adventurous, you can make a quick aromatic stir fry (garlic, chives, green onion, diced onions, chili peppers, whatever you have on hand) and toss the shrimp in it to get the oniony, garlicy, spicy aromatics on the shrimp.
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I had some garlic, chives, and onions on hand so I quickly sauteed them and topped the shrimp.
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Some people will peel the shrimp or take off the heads but that ruins all the fun of eating the shell and crunchy heads.