Good news for shellfish lovers everywhere! Shrimp is actually good for you. Its high cholesterol content has frightened away people aiming for heart-healthy diets, but new research indicates that the abundant nutrients in shrimp, along with the omega fatty acids, may have enough of a positive impact to cancel out the negatives. Additionally, some studies show that only a quarter of the population is sensitive to dietary cholesterol.
This news does not mean it’s time for Shrimpfest at Red Lobster every day. What it does mean, is that you can indulge in up to 12 ounces of shrimp a week, without the worry of adverse health effects or excessive exposure to mercury. Keep reading to learn what you need to know in order to incorporate this versatile seafood into your healthy balanced diet, and how to cook it in a way that seals in all its delicious flavor.
Frozen Shrimp For the Win
Despite our perception that fresh is always better, frozen shrimp has some very appealing advantages over fresh. Fresh shrimp only stays good for two or three days in your refrigerator, so you need to be prepared to cook it soon after you get it home. Frozen shrimp has an infinite life in the freezer, and it maintains its flavor and texture for up to six months.
If you are not a fan of doing the deveining or taking the shell off yourself, it can be challenging to find fresh shrimp that doesn’t totally gross you out.
Many frozen shrimp brands do the dirty work for you and give you the fleshy pink part that is ready to cook right away. Sometimes, you don’t even have to thaw frozen shrimp. You can buy pre-made recipes like shrimp scampi or beer-battered shrimp, and just toss it in the skillet or oven.
In addition to lasting longer and taking away the “ick” factor of having to clean it yourself, frozen shrimp is usually fresher than fresh shrimp. Unless you live next to the ocean where they harvest it, fresh shrimp has to be hauled in and then transported to your market.
Frozen shrimp is often flash-frozen soon after it is caught, ensuring the freshest quality possible.
Finding Healthy, Responsibly-Sourced Shrimp
The debate over wild-caught or farm-raised shrimp is less a question of whether the shrimp spent its life swimming free or wrangled on a farm, and more a question of the integrity of the suppliers. Companies like SeaPak focus on environmental safety and responsibility, protecting the waterways as well as consumers.
When you shop for shrimp to put into your next delicious meal, look for brands that source their seafood from Best Aquaculture Practices Certified farms and Maine Stewardship Council Certified suppliers. Brands that work in conjunction with these organizations emphasize best practices to give you the highest-quality and safest seafood possible.
Cooking Delicious Frozen Shrimp
Now that you know the ins and outs of ensuring you have excellent shrimp, it’s time to get cooking. If you have precooked frozen shrimp, there is no need to thaw. Simply follow the instructions on the package, and you will have a delicious base for any recipe.
On the other hand, if your frozen shrimp is not precooked, then a few simple steps will have you scarfing down a delicious meal in no time.
Thaw Your Shrimp
Take shrimp out of the freezer the night before you are ready to cook it, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t try to thaw your shrimp on the counter. Bacteria will accumulate too quickly and you run the risk of getting a food-borne illness. You can safely thaw shrimp in the microwave, but this may result in partial cooking and a rubbery texture.
The best way to quickly thaw frozen shrimp is to run it under cold water for 5-10 minutes. When the shrimp becomes pliable and translucent, it is thawed enough to cook. Pat it dry with a paper towel and you are all set to prepare your recipe.
Roasting Shrimp in the Oven
A quick, healthy way to prepare shrimp is roasting it in the oven. High temperatures seal in the moisture, and the shrimp turns out tender and juicy.
- Preheat your oven to 400 °F.
- Toss shrimp with your favorite cooking oil and spices.
- Spread shrimp out on a baking sheet.
- Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until shrimp turns darker translucent to opaque.
- Plate your shrimp and enjoy!
Searing Shrimp in a Skillet
Searing shrimp also seals in moisture, making it tender and juicy. When you sear your shrimp, it holds more of the oil and you can use it to create delicious sauces once the shrimp is cooked.
- Coat medium to large skillet with your favorite cooking oil and preheat until smoking.
- While skillet is heating, toss shrimp with herbs and spices.
- Place shrimp in a single layer into skillet and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove skillet from heat and use tongs to flip shrimp
- At this point, add a little liquid to make a sauce and cook on medium-high for 1 minute.
- Or you can simply keep the skillet off the heat and cover with a lid for 2 minutes.
- Your shrimp is ready to eat.
Recipe Ideas for Frozen Shrimp
Roasting and searing are the two best ways to keep your shrimp tender, juicy, and tasting fresh. They are quick and easy cooking methods that give you the base for a delicious, healthy meal in minutes. Try these flavor profiles to jazz up your weeknight meals:
- Olive oil, oregano, and basil over cooked pasta for a Mediterranean flair.
- Sesame oil, cayenne pepper, and a dash of soy sauce over rice.
- Butter and Cajun spices tossed in a salad with mixed greens and cucumbers.
However you decide to prepare your shrimp, make sure you get it from sustainable sources so you can enjoy your culinary adventure knowing you are taking care of the earth as well as your heart.