While this succulent seafood may be small, they're huge in their appeal as these deliciously clean and crisp tasting crustaceans can be served hot or cold and are the most popular seafood in North America, next to canned tuna.
Fortunately, we're able to enjoy them fresh and/or frozen throughout the year.
Unlike their close relative, lobsters and crayfish, they're swimmers rather than crawlers.
They use the "swimmerets" on their abdomens to swim forward and their tail to move backward.
A wonderfully nutritious alternative to meat proteins, the firm, translucent, flesh of raw shrimps are low in calories and saturated fat.
Many Health Benefits
These super crustaceans are anything but small in their nutrient density.
They're an excellent source of selenium and unusually low-fat, low-calorie protein.
In fact, a four oz. serving supplies 23.7 g. of protein (that's 47.4% of the daily value for protein) for a mere 112 calories and less than a gram of fat.
They're also a very good source of vitamin-D and vitamin-B12.
Providing Large Cardiovascular Benefits
Many people are confused about the fat and cholesterol content of these succulent sea critters.
We know they're very low in total fat, yet they have a high cholesterol content (about 200 milligrams in 3.5 ounces, or 12 large size).
Some people have avoided eating shrimp precisely because of this high cholesterol content.
However, based on research and blood cholesterol levels, avoidance for this reason doesn't seem justified.
In just a four oz. serving, you'll receive 28.2% of the daily value for vitamin-B12.
Vitamin-B12 is one of the nutrients needed to keep levels of homocysteine, a molecule that can directly damage blood vessel walls and is considered a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, low.
Also, they're a very good source of cardio-protective omega-3 fatty acids, noted for their anti-inflammatory effects and ability to prevent the formation of blood clots.
Four oz. provide 14.8% of your daily need for these protective fats.
Cancer-Protection from Selenium and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These super crustaceans are an excellent source of selenium, providing 64.2% of the daily value for this trace mineral in a 4-oz. serving.
Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer have suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence.
Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and to induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
They also provide omega-3 fats, which have been found to greatly reduce risk of colorectal cancer.
While they may be small, they're anything but in their appeal.
The firm, translucent flesh comes in a wide range of colors depending upon the variety.
They can be pink, gray, brownish or yellow.
Once cooked, the flesh of these super succulent crustaceans becomes opaque and creamy or pinkish in color.
Over 300 different species are harvested worldwide and within these 300 species, thousands of varieties are available.
In North America, the most commonly available type is the deep-water variety.
They're three to four inches in length and reddish-pink in color.
Giant tiger prawns are also becoming wildly popular.
These large variety crustaceans, measuring six to twelve inches in length, are one of the most widely consumed types in many regions of Asia.
We've found that the smaller the seafood, the more tender and flavorful.
How to Select and Store
Just as with any seafood, it's best to purchase these delectable crustaceans from a store that has a good reputation for having a fresh supply.
"When"...you'll be preparing them, should influence your decision as to whether you should buy fresh or frozen.
Frozen offer the longest shelf life, as they're able to be kept for several weeks, whereas fresh will only keep for a day or two.
When fresh, they should have firm bodies that are still attached to their shells.
They should be free of black spots on their shell since this indicates that the flesh has begun to break down. (the exception is the delicacy called "Spot" prawns which can only be found off the coast of British Columbia, which are identified by several black spots on their shells...and we can personally attest...they are amazing!)
Also, the shells should not appear yellow or gritty as this may be indicative that sodium bisulfate or another chemical has been used to bleach the shells.
Smell is a good indicator of freshness; good quality shrimp have a slightly saltwater smell.
Since a slightly "off" smell cannot be detected through plastic, if you have the option, purchase displayed seafood as opposed to that which are prepackaged.
Once the fishmonger wraps and hands you the ones you've choosen, smell them through the paper wrapping and return them if they smell peculiar.
When storing any type of seafood, it's important to keep it cold since seafood is very sensitive to temperature.
So, after your purchase, make sure to return it to a refrigerator as soon as possible.
If your purchase is going to accompany you during a day full of errands, keep a cooler in the car where you can place them to make sure they stay cold and don't spoil.
The temperature of most refrigerators is slightly warmer than ideal for storing seafood, therefore, to ensure maximum freshness and quality, it's important to use special storage methods so as to create the optimal temperature for holding these delectable crustaceans.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to place your seafood, which has been well wrapped, in a baking dish filled with ice.
The baking dish and seafood should then be placed on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator, which is its coolest area.
Replenish the ice one or two times per day.
Shrimp can be refrigerated for up to two days although it should be purchased as close to being served as possible
You can extend the shelf life by freezing it.
To do so, wrap it well in plastic and place it in the coldest part of the freezer where it'll keep for about one month.
To defrost, place in a bowl of cold water or in the refrigerator.
Never thaw the shrimp at room temperature or in a microwave since this can lead to a loss of moisture and nutrients.
A Few Tips for Preparation:
Shrimp can be cooked either shelled or unshelled depending how you'll be using them in a recipe.
There are various methods to removing the shell.
One way is to first pinch off the head and the legs, then holding the tail, peel the shell off from the body.
If shelling the frozen variety, don't defrost them completely as they'll be easier to shell when they're still slightly frozen.
Some people prefer to remove the intestines before cooking or eating.
To do so, make a shallow incision along the back of the shrimp and pull out the dark vein that runs throughout by rinsing under cold water.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Combine chopped shrimp with chopped scallions, tomatoes, diced chili peppers, garlic, lemon juice and a little olive oil.
Season to taste and serve this savory seafood salad on a bed of romaine lettuce.
Serve cooked and cold with salsa dip.
Cut up cooked crustaceans and add to vegetable soups.
Make a quick, easy and healthy version of pasta putanesca.
Add cooked shrimp to spicy pasta sauce and serve over whole wheat noodles.
Add a single, large shrimp as a garnish with a tomato based cocktail, such as a Blood Mary or a Caesar.
These super delectables crustaceans are an excellent source of protein and selenium.
They're also a very good source of vitamin-D, vitamin-B12 and a good source of iron, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, zinc, copper and magnesium.
Now, if you're wondering what to have for dinner this evening, might we suggest...
Shrimp in Garlic Wine Sauce
This easy-to-prepare dish can be enjoyed in a matter of minutes!
This elegant sauce gives the quick cooking shrimp a crowd-pleasing flavor.
To add an Italian flare, try a simpler take on risotto using orzo pasta.
Spinach and red pepper provide the antioxidants, and the ricotta-parmesan sauce has filling, low-fat protein.
But what really matters is that it tastes amazing, and dinner's on the table in less than 30 minutes!
It's healthy, low in fat and delicious.
We keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer at all times so we can whip this up whenever the mood strikes.
* 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin olive oil
* 1/2 tsp. red-pepper flakes
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
* 2 Tbs. dry white wine
* 2 Tbs. lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp. paprika
* 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
1. Warm the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
When hot, add the red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Add the shrimp, wine, lemon juice, and paprika.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque.
Sprinkle with the parsley, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Fat 8.8 g.
Saturated Fat 1.3 g.
Cholesterol 172.4 mg.
Sodium 208.9 mg.
Carbohydrates 3.3 g.
Total Sugars 0.4 g.
Dietary Fiber 0.3 g.
Protein 23.4 g.
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