Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Shrimp Boil

While skating over (refrozen) ice fishing holes on Fort Pond last weekend, I was reminded of another way to keep it local in a New England winter: eating ice. Also, fishing.

Unlike crops, fish don't die in the winter, so we can kill them and eat them. Last night I had the chance to eat many, many marine creatures thanks to sometimes T&F contributors Dave and Karen.

They participate in the Cape Ann Fresh Catch seafood CSA (or "CSF") and receive alternating pick-ups of shrimp and fish, fishing conditions permitting. To make up for a missed share last week, yesterday they received a whole cod plus five pounds of shrimp, a pairing my friend Amanda called "surf n' surf."

You would not believe how much shrimp five pounds of shrimp is. At a restaurant, shrimp is stingily doled out by count: a skewer of four, one per summer roll. Last night the four of us ate as much shrimp as we possibly could, the shrimp was as delicious as imaginable, yet shrimp remained.

Even a rubbery, defrosted and then overcooked, farm raised Indonesian shrimp that's destroying the environment is still pretty tasty, but these were a different ball game altogether. I often bring up the backyard tomato anology and it applies perfectly here; everyone knows how much better a homegrown tomato is than its pale and mealy supermarket cousin, but not everyone realizes that everything is like that. Whether it's a leaf of sage from your herb pot or a shrimp hauled in that morning, fresh, local, real food is always as different from the alternative as those two tomatoes are from one another.

Every shrimp was like a little lobster. The flesh was as supple as cotton candy, the flavor sweet like the finest, freshest butter and not at all "fishy." Most were teaming with (what I hope was) roe, a delicacy within a delicacy. The heads were a pleasure to suck and contained a more concentrated dose of shrimpiness than rest of the body combined, besides a couple of bitter ones that must have been thinking dark thoughts when the net was hoisted. I'm glad they were stopped before they could act on their impulses, whatever those were (probably "let's eat some more sh*t!").

Dave being a Marylander, the shrimp was prepared a la boil and quickly steamed in a pot that contained shrimp stock (from a previous week's shells), white wine, a little heat, Stillman Farm sausage (another CSA), potatoes, and corn.

Of course fresh locally grown corn can't be found for a thousand miles in any direction, and the boil is generally a summer thing, but the novelty factor served as a bright light in these cold, dark days. It was a decidely unseasonable way to feast on an otherwise seasonally available ingredient: (too much) shrimp.

Now isn't that better than eating ice?

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sm said...

love the line "fish don't die in winter, so we can kill them and eat them." being a "marylander" often includes old bay seasoning... sounds like a key ingredient was missing!

Jay said...

"The heads were a pleasure to suck."

Tee hee.


Anonymous said...

You know, I absolutely loathe shrimp boil, or seafood boils of any kind (loathe as in "you put the sweet, sane, wholesome VEGETABLES with the ever-dicy seafood so they'll all taste FISHY? EwwwwWWWW!") And yet this post actually made it sound kind of good. Or maybe it was just how hard I laughed at the idea of shrimp thinking dark thoughts. Thanks.


Aaron Kagan said...


I really like the escalation in your w's.

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