There’s nothing tiny or insignificant about today’s food holiday. May 10 is National Shrimp Day!
Shrimp is the #1 seafood in America, ranking ahead of canned tuna and salmon in popularity. And yet, we should be eating even more, according to the USDA, which recommends 8 ounces of seafood every week. Shrimp have long been a popular and tasty food choice; evidence of shrimping off North America dates back to 600 AD. Native Americans caught shrimp in traps made from branches and Spanish moss, while at the same time early European settlers – who had no idea shrimp were so abundant off the coasts – were starving to death because they couldn’t find enough protein. During the California gold rush, Chinese immigrants began catching shrimp in San Francisco Bay, drying them in the sun, and either exporting them to China or selling them locally, officially kicking off the shrimp industry in the U.S. Shrimp trawling, a technique in which a boat drags a big net across the bottom of the ocean floor in order to scoop up shrimp, resulted in large harvests and revolutionized the industry. Shrimping grounds expanded, and the delicate seafood could now be enjoyed year-round. Shrimp got another marketing boon when Bubba from Forrest Gump waxed philosophically over his love for the crustacean. Suddenly, there were real-life Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants everywhere. Talk about life imitating art.
I love shrimp, and enjoy it in a variety of presentations. For today’s challenge, Tara and I decided to pick up some fresh-caught shrimp from the seafood counter at Fred Meyer. We marinated it in a Mojito Lime sauce, stuck it on skewers, and grilled it for dinner. Mmm!
Three days after celebrating crabmeat, we honor another delicious seafood: March 12 is Baked Scallops Day! Scallops have long been a personal fave of mine (much like crab), so this has been a fun past few days.
Scallops are characterized by a brightly colored, fan-shaped shell. The word comes from the French escalope, which means “shell.” It doesn’t get much more literal than that. Scallops symbolize female fertility; many paintings of the goddess Venus include a scallop shell to help identify her. The scallop shell also symbolizes the setting sun, and Greedy Ass Big Oil Conglomerates (it is the logo for Shell). But we’ll overlook that, since the meat is so damn tasty. Scallops are considered a delicacy around much of the world, prized for their mild, sweet flavor and nutritious properties. In the U.S., we generally eat the abductor muscle, the white and meaty part of the scallop. In other parts of the world, scallops are eaten whole (though presumably this does not include the shell). Scallops are broken down into two different categories: bay scallops and sea scallops. The main difference is in the size; sea scallops are considerably larger, making them a better choice for pan searing. Scallop season runs from November to March, but frozen scallops are available year-round.
I picked up some sea scallops from the seafood counter at Fred Meyer after work. They were $18.99 a pound, which is just a tad pricey, so I asked for 1/2 a pound. Chuckled when I ended up with a whopping 4 scallops. But there are four of us this week, since I’ve got my kids, so I simply baked the scallops as an appetizer, and we had fish (cod) for dinner. The recipe was pretty simple and, as you might guess, delicious!