Maine Head-On Shrimp
Tried these last night--$7.99 a pound at Garden of Eden. They're excellent--sweet, and perfect boiled w/water, wine vinegar, and celery, then tossed with olive oil and lemon. Question: This is the first time I noticed them in New York. Have I been missing out for years? I thought they were available only in Maine and Boston.
I actually just bought Maine shrimps from Whole Foods. They were without heads but still in shells. A bit small in size, they cost $6.99 per pound. The quality was inconsistent, as some of them were sweet and firm and others were slightly mushy (so I think some of them were placed out for awhile). Nevertheless the good ones were really good indeed!
I have seen them in Citeralla as well, but it is by chance. May be it is in season?
I read elsewhere that the season is from Dec. through April. They were very fragile, to be sure! I generally like the quality of Citerella and Garden of Eden over Whole Foods for seafood, so I'll check in at Citerella and see what they've got--a bit disturbing that WF takes the heads off. I imagine it affects the flavor of the shrimp somewhat.
re: Heavy Ed
Hi Heavy Ed,
I grew up eating steamed fresh live shrimp fresh from the tanks or markets (not to sound cruel but the shrimps are still kicking and jumping when I put them in the steamer - that's the only why I like it...) These shrimps are usually in grey/greenish color. I haven't had live Maine shrimps before, but the ones that I bought are on ice and they are pink in color - meaning the shells are pink (almost like they are cooked) but the flesh is translucent. They are, if fresh (but not live...), VERY VERY SWEET! The "sweet" flavor is similar to the Ama-ebi you get in Japanese restaurants!
Texture-wise the two types of shrimps are similar, with the meat fresh and "boucing" in your mouth. Unfortunately because the maine shrimps do not come live, I have had bad ones that were slightly mushy.
Hope this helps~
Maine shrimp, Pandalus borealis are a small (30-70 lb.), pink, cold water shrimp that live in polar waters. They are known for being very sweet with a delicate flavor. They are prized for sushi and sashimi in Japan where they are one of the types called ama ebi, sweet shrimp. They tend to run $7-$10 a lb. outside of coastal New England / Maine, and much cheaper, $1-$2 lb., for ones just caught and sold roadside in Maine.
Their population is low due to extreme over harvesting from 1950-1977 when the population crashed so bad that they closed fishing on them. Fishing resumed in the early 80's but the population has remained very low since then. While technically the season can go from Dec 1 to May 31 the catch is tightly controlled with a short season each year, sometimes only 4-7 weeks, based on monitoring the population. Four years ago the season was only 28 days. The population has started to improve a lot over the past few years so the season has been lengthened. This year the season is from Dec 1, 2006 to April 30, 2007.
But last year the prices offered by mid to late season at the wholesale auction markets were so low ($0.25 lb.) that a lot of the fishermen just stopped fishing. The Maine shrimp fishery is in trouble with many shrimp fishermen not even bothering to go out this year because prices are so low for them that it just doesn't pay, especially with fuel prices so high. Ten years ago the wholesale price was $1.00 lb when fuel was much cheaper. The wholesale auction price offered at the beginning of the season this year was $0.39 lb. (Yes, 39 cents a pound.)
They had beautiful Maine Shrimp at the Fish Store right next to the stop on Grand St.. 1.99 A LB.