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Take That Shrimp Seriously!

Posted on: February 27th, 2012

Shrimp is a very special food, but most of us take it for granted.  All shrimp is not created equally, not by a long-shot!  There are several hundred shrimp species, and we’re very lucky to have some of the best tasting in the bays and seas surrounding North America.

Please keep in mind, shrimping and market conditions are always changing, shrimp are a seasonal item and seasons and sources can vary with every season.  We’re constantly shopping for the best shrimp available each season and for new opportunities and sources – so we cannot have all these different shrimp available at all times. We always purchase the finest shrimp of the season, and availability and supplies on hand will constantly vary – but that’s just part of the fun!

Tony’s Florentine Style Stuffed Shrimp – oven ready.

What Makes Shrimp Great?

Tony’s Shrimp Ceviche – Here’s a recipe

The keys to great shrimp are taste, texture and sustainability.  Great shrimp have a rich and vibrant flavor (as opposed to bland and salty), and a texture that ‘snaps’ with every bite (as opposed to flabby and mushy). Sustainability is also very important to us, we refuse to support unethical shrimpers!

Blind Tasting
When we choose shrimp at Tony’s, we do so in blind side-by-side taste tests. Side-by-side tasting without knowing which is which reveals a lot more than you can imagine (and it’s a lot of fun, try it sometime).

Great shrimp at the table is a culmination of the right species and great handling.  Luckily some of the best tasting shrimp are come from U.S. waters.  As for handling; proper harvesting, quick icing and delicate processing are crucial factors in quality.

No Additives
Avoid shrimp treated with chemicals (to preserve and increase water retention), and pre-brined shrimp (to increase weight and improve the palatability of lower quality shrimp).  While these are pretty common, we will not buy any ‘treated’ or ‘enhanced’ shrimp at Tony’s.

Ebi Furai (Fried Shrimp) in Japan, the ultimate fried shrimp – Here’s a Recipe

US and Central American Shrimp is King!
I’ve been lucky enough to eat shrimp on three continents and there is no question that shrimp from the America’s is the finest.  I feel sorry for shrimp lovers in Europe (unless they can get shrimp from the America’s), shrimp was pretty disappointing there.  Asia was better, particularly when ordering live shrimp from tanks in China and Thailand, and everything I had in Japan – but in my opinion, none of them could compare to the best species in the US.

White Vannamei Shrimp from the America’s – Available seasonally at Tony’s

 

Louisiana Shrimp
Most of this shrimp is gobbled up fresh by locals, not frozen for sale in other parts of the country. We love the delicious shrimp of Louisiana and can special order it for you, but the shelf life is VERY short so I generally do not recommend it, and shipping costs make it more expensive.

Royal Red Florida Shrimp

 

Florida Rock Shrimp
Florida Shrimp
Some of the world’s finest shrimp come from the waters around Florida.  We’ve proudly been buying Florida Shrimp direct from the docks for years now, and while availability decreased for a couple years after the Gulf oil disaster, they’re coming back and we buy them every chance we get!  Ask your butcher if we have any in stock today.  Read more about the 6 species of Florida Shrimp we love so dearly.
Gulf of California Peeled White Shrimp

Only at
Tony’s

Wild Peeled and Deveined Shrimp
Finally!  We’ve never been able to offer wild peeled and deveined shrimp – until now!  As of this month (Feb, 2012), all our Peeled and Deveined Raw Shrimp are wild whites from the Gulf of California, and unlike most of the Asian shrimp that dominates the market, they’re not brined or treated with chemicals.  They’re better in every way, and they’re only at Tony’s Market!
Exclusive to Tony’s Markets and a few high end local restaurants!  These shrimp are a blend of White (Litopenaeus Vannamei) and Blue (Litopenaeus Stylirostris) shrimp and they’re taste and texture is second to none!

Scampi Style Shrimp – Get the Recipe Here

 

Only at Tony’s
Fisherman’s Daughter Shrimp
As the story goes, the daughter of a fisherman in Baja California learned how damaging shrimping was and confronted her dad about it. He was so moved he figured out a new way to shrimp – new lighter nets that change water flow patterns and incorporate by-catch reduction devices.  It works – by-catch is reduced by a factor of 3.  They do tend to catch less shrimp, but they also have far less by-catch, use 30% less fuel, and at the same time they get a better, firmer shrimp – it’s a win-win situation.  Availability varies with the season.
Only at Tony’s
Laughing Bird
Shrimp
Depending on the year, harvest and availability, we also love to offer sustainably farm-raised White Vannamei shrimp from Costa Rica, a country with a long history of progressive approaches to the issues of bio-diversity, eco-systems, and socio-economic management. The folks at Laughing Bird Shrimp of Costa Rica have solved
these problems and deliver delicious white shrimp without the
environmental baggage. Availability and our buying options vary with the season and year to year, so we can’t always have  in stock – ask your butcher if we’ve got any today.

 

Is it a Shrimp or a Prawn?
Shrimp and prawns are related, but part of different suborders.  While the terms are often used interchangeably and the meanings seem to vary by country, essentially Shrimp are from marine (salt) water while Prawns are generally from fresh or brackish waters.  In the UK, the term prawns is commonly used for all shrimp, and in the US the biggest shrimp are often called prawns.  It can be confusing…  From a taste perspective, I find that shrimp generally have a firmer texture and finer flavor than prawns, but I will forever keep tasting!
Some crazy looking shrimp I ate in the ‘Saigung’ section of Hong Kong, the local name was silly, but I believe they are Mantis Shrimp.  No menu here, just point at what you want from dozens of live tanks and they cook them for you.


I believe these are the same Mantis Shrimp pictures above, taken many years ago in an open air market in
Aix en Provence.

Shrimp Sizing Chart

This shrimp-sizing chart is to be used for buying frozen or
fresh Shrimp
in the shell without the head on.

 

Market/Trade Name
Shrimp count (number)
per pound
Average shrimp per pound
Extra Colossal
U10
5
Colossal
U12
9
Colossal
U15
14
Extra Jumbo
16/20
18
Jumbo
21/25
23
Extra Large
26/30
28
Large
31/35
33
Medium Large
36/40
38
Medium
41/50
45
Small
51/60
55
Extra Small
61/70
65

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