Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, and in my day-to-day work with The Fountain Avenue Kitchen, I’m lucky to have a hearty helping of it.
Beyond the requisite cooking and photo taking, there’s plenty of writing and editing for both my newspaper column and the many recipes I post regularly to my blog. Maintaining a website also takes a good bit of time and, as with anything computer-related, snafus often arise when least expected. I realized long ago that I could share many more recipes with my readers if only I had a tech-savvy assistant with a fondness for food, a flair for social media, and perhaps even liked to snap a few photos here and there. (Any takers?)
In recent years, I’ve also spent a steadily increasing amount of time on recipe development for a handful of local and national companies. In years past, you might have picked up a can of soup or a box of pasta in the grocery store and noticed a recipe on the label. Those package recipes still exist, although manufacturers are increasingly offering a wide variety of online recipes as a helpful resource to their customers.
Usually, a company finds me through my blog and reaches out with the thought that I might provide a steady source of reliable recipes. If the product or company is new to me, I do my research and ask a lot of questions. Developing a series of recipes around a specific ingredient means that my family will be eating a lot of it, and I won’t be any help to anyone if I’m not 100% behind the product.
A few months ago, I embarked on a tasty new challenge for The American Shrimp Company, a Louisiana-based business that sells wild caught American shrimp harvested from U.S. coastal waters. During my initial information-gathering stage, I learned much about the company, their safety standards, and their sustainability efforts, including their commitment to biodegradable packaging materials. (They literally dissolve when water is poured over them and can be used to fertilize your grass or garden!)
I also picked up some trivia, which is always good for some light-hearted entertainment around the dinner table. For example, did you know that the average American consumes four pounds of shrimp annually? That makes shrimp the most popular seafood in America, trailed by tuna, salmon, and tilapia.
Here are a few other fun facts:
Biologically speaking, shrimp are arthropods, meaning they are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed appendages.
Shrimp are primarily swimmers, not crawlers—and they’re fast backwards swimmers.
They are found in both fresh and salt water and tend to stay close to the bottom.
The average lifespan of a shrimp is 9 to 18 months, although some species, such as the North Atlantic shrimp, are known to live up to 8 years.
The Gulf of Mexico produces a whopping 244 million pounds of shrimp per year. Still, 90% of the shrimp sold in the United States is imported.
One large shrimp provides about 7 calories and 1.5 grams of protein. For shrimp cocktail fans, one jumbo shrimp contains approximately 14 calories and 3 grams of protein. So, an appetizer of three jumbo shrimp, each doused with a teaspoon of cocktail sauce (15 additional calories total), adds up to less than 60 calories and 9 grams of protein with negligible fat and carbs.
Shrimp are considered to be an excellent source of protein, antioxidants, Vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorous, choline, copper, and iodine.
- 3 thin slices (1-1/2 ounces) prosciutto, roughly chopped or torn into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- 1 pound medium or large Wild Caught American Shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
In a large non-stick skillet (a 12-inch diameter works well), sauté the prosciutto over medium heat until crisp, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Remove to a plate.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, and then add the shrimp in one layer. Raise the heat to medium-high, season lightly with salt and pepper (I use about 1/4 teaspoon each at this point), and cook for 3-5 minutes, flipping occasionally, or until the shrimp are opaque and just barely cooked through the center. Remove to a plate. (To keep the prosciutto crisp, place the shrimp on a separate plate.)
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, followed by the asparagus and another pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cook the asparagus for another 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly, or until crisp-tender. Precise cooking time will depend on thickness of spears.
Return the shrimp to the pan, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, and stir to evenly coat. Sprinkle with the reserved prosciutto, remove from the heat, and serve immediately.
- Tip: I’ve always appreciated shrimp for their quick cook time. That said, they can easily be overcooked, resulting in dry, rubbery shrimp. Shrimp are done the moment the flesh turns pinkish in hue and they’re mostly opaque with no gray areas. For medium to large shrimp this will typically take just 3 to 5 minutes. And remember, carry-over heat continues to cook the shrimp for a minute or two after they’ve been removed from the heat.
- I also read this helpful hint, credited to The Huffington Post, recently: straight shrimp are undercooked, shrimp that have curled into a C-shape are perfectly cooked, and shrimp that have twisted into an O-shape are irreparably overcooked.
Interesting fact: The American Shrimp Company is 1 of 3 shrimp processing facilities in the world to operate its plant with a safe quality food certification. The company renews the certification annually and undergoes various audits and regulatory checks to maintain this certification and quality standards. The American Shrimp Company is also an industry leader in the safety and sustainability of seafood harvesting.