It’s time to eat northern shrimp in earnest! Also called native or Maine shrimp, these sweet shrimp are fast cooking and tasty.
Seaport Fish in Rye is also featuring native shrimp
Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote a really great article about our wonderful northern shrimp and an initiative in Maine to work toward direct sales and marketing. In the article, she gives provides basic cooking and handling techniques:
“Whenever possible, I like to get my shrimp with their shells and heads on as a guarantee of freshness. The heads break away easily, and peeling is easy once you get the rhythm. They do not need to be deveined. The roe, which varies in color from bright blue to gray, is tasty, but many cooks remove it for appearance’s sake. Save the heads and shells (and the roe) to make a savory shrimp broth (see recipe). If you’re not using it right away, you can freeze the broth and add it to future chowders or seafood stews. The shrimp are of course best fresh, but you can freeze them, too, for up to a month.
Cooking Maine shrimp isn’t difficult, but, because of the tender nature of their flesh, less is decidedly more: They are all too easy to overcook. A quick dip in boiling water or a mere flash in a pan of hot oil is sufficient to cook them through. In fact, many Maine shrimp fans find the greatest pleasure is raw shrimp, perhaps marinated briefly, to firm up the flesh. Old-fashioned Maine cooks like me agree that the best way to serve a mess of shrimp is simply boiled (half a minute is plenty of time, done in batches to avoid overcooking), quickly drained and turned out on a kitchen table covered with newspaper. Add a dipping sauce as simple as extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice or as complex as Vietnamese nuoc cham (fish sauce with garlic, chili peppers and lime juice) [Recipe for Nuoc Cham]. Then it’s just peel, dip, eat.
In judging quantities to serve, keep in mind that about half the weight of each shrimp is in the head. Thus, a pound of whole shrimp, with their heads and shells on, will produce six to eight ounces when shelled and beheaded, or enough for two people as a starter or mixed into a risotto or pasta. For main-course shrimp, I count on at least a pound of whole shrimp per person.