If we can cook it, you can cook it And we'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

Crystal Shrimp with Ginger, Sweet Peas and Scallions

         No matter how gray a day it’s been, coming home to a dinner of beautifully pink and gold shrimp paired with sweet peas, fresh scallions and ginger medallions is a visual treat.  The simple salting and rinsing of the raw shrimp gives them a firm texture.  This recipe, which first appeared in Bon Appetit five years ago, gives credit for the name of the dish to the crystal-like texture of the shrimp. I would also have to say that there is a crystal look to the shrimp as well.  There’s not a lot of prep time involved in this recipe however it does require a 1 to 3 hour rest period for the shrimp once they’ve been battered with cornstarch and egg white.  While that was going on, I took a look at the history of the Shrimp and another look at where mine come from, that marvel of food shopping, Costco.
Marco Polo
         In a kind of believe it or not, the shrimp’s name is derived from a Middle English word ‘shrimpe’ which meant ‘pygmy’.  This of course could lead to an entire discussion on the dichotomy of the words “Jumbo Shrimp” and doesn’t really give a satisfying answer to why someone would pick up a shrimp and think “Pygmy!”   Putting that aside, shrimp has been around for a very long time.  The Chinese were eating shrimp in the 7th century.  And when Marco Polo arrived in China in 1280, he commented on their abundance in food markets.  This country, however, has long held the record for shrimp eating.  In the 17th  century, Louisiana’s bayou residents were hauling in shrimp in giant seines that were up to 600 feet in circumference!  And there were no mechanical devices involved at all – just human labor.  It wasn’t until 1917 that mechanized shrimping arrived.  And with it came some unfortunate side effects.
         Because of the way shrimp are harvested, by scraping the ocean floor, a lot of the shrimp’s natural habitat, the ocean floor is disturbed if not destroyed outright . Since the US harvests over 650 million pounds a year, more than any other country, this has a profoundly negative effect on the eco-system that sustains the shrimp.  Shrimp farming might seem to be the answer and to a certain extent it is, when done properly.   But like all farmed seafood, the farmers who go the extra mile are the exception to the rule.
Costco Shrimp
No Preservatives
Chemical Free 
Shrimp Farm in Viet Nam 
         At our house, almost all our shrimp come from Costco. And all of Costco’s shrimp come from Southeast Asia.   This makes them immediately suspect since we Americans believe that there can’t be much governmental oversight and the Southeast Asian shrimp must be floating in chemicals.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  A check of the front of the package reveals two claims: “No Preservatives. Chemical-Free.” Costco’s been in the news recently because its phenomenal success has not come about on the backs of its workers.  Instead, Costco excels in hourly wages, healthcare for its employees and extremely tight margins.  So it comes as no real surprise that Costco has a comprehensive agreement with the World Wildlife Fund to inspect and certify that the shrimp farms in Southeast Asia meet the Shrimp Aquaculture’s draft standards for shrimp farming.  And Costco has a reputation for being on the cutting edge of best practices in seafood retailing.  “In terms of seafood buying, they are as good as it gets” says a World Wildlife Foundation post on their work with Costco.  And that’s good enough for me. So here is the recipe for Crystal Shrimp which I served on a bed of Jasmine rice from Thailand so my shrimp would feel right at home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.