Saturday, July 24, 2010

Helping the Gulf Coast: Ask Your Grocer For Wild American Shrimp!

This Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is my version of those served in various restaurants. Mine has a lot less ketchup and is very fresh.

My neighbor fills his yard with tomato plants each year and sells the fruit. These have tender skins so I didn't bother peeling them but if you need to, just put the whole uncut tomatoes into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove them and cut a shallow X in the skin - it will slip right off!

If you don't like seeds, cut them in half and squeeze the pulp and seeds out into a strainer over a bowl so you won't lose the juice. I don't mind tomato seeds so mine has seeds in it.

Chop two medium size tomatoes into small - half-a-bite or less - pieces, and put in a mixing bowl.

I used fresh Thyme, minced superfine, because the cilantro had already set seed and gone the way of all things. Thyme is also a great choice if you don't like cilantro. Fresh herb adds a nice touch with fresh veggies, but in a pinch, even "a pinch of oregano" would be great.

Mince, very finely, one stick of celery and 1/4 cup of sweet onion (we used Vidalias we bought as we passed through Georgia. Texas 1015s would be great) and add to bowl with tomatoes. Red onion would be very pretty in this too.

Put one large or two small cloves of garlic through the press. If you don't have a garlic press, add that to your Christmas Wish List and mince the garlic very very fine.

Add it to the bowl of chopped veggies.

Oh we love the vacuum wrapped fresh avocados - always just exactly ripe, never bruised, and, unopened, they keep a long long time. There's nothing added to them, the vaccuum packaging keeps the air away to keep them fresh. Chop 3 or 4 avocado halves into pieces about the same size as the tomatoes, and add to the bowl.

Squeeze the juice from half of a lime and pour over the veggies. These are large limes - maybe the juice of one lime if you are using small ones or key limes. You could also use fresh lemon or 3 tablespoons of bottled juice.

Add a couple of splashes of Worchestershire Sauce (about one Tablespoon), one Tablespoon of ketchup, 2 teaspoons of prepared Horseradish, salt to taste, and mix well.

Paul likes his with more liquid: if you wish, add one 16 ounce can (2 cups) of V8 juice.

The shrimp: there's more after the recipe on helping the Gulf by using only wild American shrimp. Being in Texas, I consider Gulf shrimp a "local" product, and it's in season right now.

Use your favorite size of pre-cooked, peeled, deveined, cocktail shrimp, with the tails removed. I prefer tiny shrimp, Paul likes large ones. We both decided that next time, I would cut large shrimp in half.

These in the pictures have their tails on. That is very nice for arranging around the side of the glass, but if you are going to toss them in the cocktail, remove the tails.

Chill, and serve in chilled glasses, with saltine crackers. Those that like heat can add Tabasco sauce at the table. Or finely mince a fresh jalapeno (with seeds removed before mincing) that people can sprinkle on to their own taste. A nice easy supper on a hot summer day!

Now then: what's so special about wild shrimp? Many believe that wild caught shrimp is best for the people, the customers, the shrimp themselves, and the environment. Not only is wild shrimp free of antibiotics and other - often banned - chemicals widely used in foreign shrimp farms, it is also shown to contain higher levels of nutrients than farm raised.

It is a healthier product that is easier on the environment and enables self reliance for small businesses on our Gulf coasts. Shrimping is an important part of the Gulf States' and South Atlantic economies (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South & North Carolina).

Demand for wild-caught American Gulf shrimp increases habitat preservation in the United States: wild shrimp live and grow in coastal wetlands and marshes, and their economic value to those local economies means everyone has an interest in keeping those wetlands open, protected, and wild.

When we lived on Lavaca Bay, we had a neighbor who was a shrimper. He sold us fresh shrimp right off the boat. Paul would remove their heads and pack them raw in containers, cover with water and freeze 25 pounds at a time. By adding the water, they don't get freezer burn and they keep fine till next shrimping season.

If you live near enough, you can drive down to the Gulf and buy your own fresh shrimp to freeze, but you can get it inland too. Most cities of any size these days also have markets that receive shipments of fresh shrimp flown in. And many places will even ship it to you.

If your grocer doesn't carry it, ASK for American Shrimp.

You can buy Wild American Shrimp fresh, frozen or canned. Here are some brands to look or ask for (please post if you know of other brands of American wild shrimp and I'll add to the list):
Arista Brand
Caught Fresh Brand
Dominick Brand Frozen Shrimp
Emeril's Louisiana Shrimp
Premier Shrimp
Sea Pearl Frozen Shrimp
SeaPak Shrimp Co.
Tony Chachere's Shrimp
BumbleBee Canned Shrimp
Orleans Canned Shrimp

And to wrap up, here are some links for more information and sources of sweet American wild shrimp:
Texas Shrimp
Louisiana Shrimp & Seafood
Mississippi Shrimp
Georgia Shrimp
Wild American Shrimp

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