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All About Northern Pink Shrimp

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Northern, or boreal, pink shrimp

Northern, or boreal, pink shrimp

Hank Shaw

A Sustainable Shrimp:

Shrimp, especially farmed shrimp from Asia, has a deservedly bad reputation these days. They are terrible for the environment, and can be loaded with chemicals. But there is at least one shrimp that is a sustainable choice, and it lives off the coast of North America: It's pandalus borealis, or the Northern Pink Shrimp.

Northern shrimp tend to be smaller than the typical tiger prawn you see at the supermarket. But what they lack in size they make up for in sweetness; to some, these little shrimp are even too sweet.

Most Northern pink shrimp stocks are in good shape, and the biggest drawback to them is that they are trawled, which damages the environment. But compared to Asian farmed shrimp, they are a good choice, according to both the Environmental Defense Fund and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Northern pink shrimp freeze well, like all shrimp, so buy them frozen unless you live near where they are caught, such as New England or the Pacific Northwest.

They can be annoying to clean, however. Pink shrimp are smallish -- 30-50 per pound on average -- and can take time to get out of the shell. They tend to be a bit softer than "normal" shrimp, too.

Best uses for pink shrimp include:

  • Ceviche, where they are marinated and "cooked" in citrus juices
  • Tossed into risotto or seafood soups at the last minute
  • Battered and made into "popcorn" shrimp
  • Chopped and made into shrimp cakes or shrimp fritters
  • Added to a stir-fry

What boreal shrimp are not the best for are presentations where shrimp are the main thing on a plate; I say this solely because of their small size. If that doesn't bother you, have at it!

Just remember, pink shrimp are very sweet, so adjust your sauces and other ingredients accordingly. They go great with acidic things, and marry well with hot chiles, too.

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