Shrimp, Buy Frozen or Fresh?

Pasta and ShrimpYesterday I challenged myself not to run to the grocery store.  I try to go no more than twice a week because of the long drive back and forth and today was not that scheduled  second trip.

So…I went through my pantry, freezer and fridge and put together a very simple meal that only took 20 minutes.

I always have in my freezer, a package of cooked, de-veined, tail-on,  frozen shrimp.  I buy the 31-40 size bag because the shrimp are a perfect size, not too big and not too small.  The price is always reasonable so I usually purchase two packages just for times like this.

On a side note:  I buy frozen because of an incident that occurred one day while shopping the Farmer’s Market near Atlanta.  I went in for fresh shrimp, not really paying attention to the sign that said, “fresh frozen”.  They only had a few pieces and I asked for more, they pointed to the freezer across the way.  I said, “no, no, I want fresh”  this other person came up and explained that is where they pull shrimp from to place on the counter; from the freezer or the back when delivered.  So I walked to the freezer and pulled out a brand name of sorts package and held it up gesturing “this?” and the people behind the counter nodded, “yes”.

How gullible I was!  I thought it was flown in fresh every day.

Sometime later, during a cooking class, I asked Chef Steve Jou of Pyng Ho Restaurant if this incident at the market was accurate and he confirmed, the best time to buy really fresh is on Thursdays.   After that, I started buying frozen.

Now, 15 years later, I learn about the organic growers who purchase land in other countries to grow produce for the world and realistically, how can even that come in fresh? It’s harvested, trucked to a boat, floating in a refrigerator compartment deep in the bowels of a cargo ship (I hope) for a two week excursion to a dock in the states.  Then it is taken to a distribution center where it then is put on trucks and delivered to stores across the country.

Cynically thinking, fresh is out of my garden, onto my plate or the next best thing to fresh,  into a pot for blanching and preserved in a Ziplock or jar.  Which just happens to be what the big conglomerates do.

Watching the TV show, “Biography” one Sunday morning, I learned the Green Giant harvested produce and drove 1/4 mile to a FDA regulated building to can or freeze the same day. Those same vegetables are shipped to the distribution center and sent out across the country by day two.  I learned the same thing with my favorite canned tomato product, Muir Glen Organic.

Of course, I support the local farmers when they set up but I discovered this past summer, some of those vendors are not farmers but rather people who stop at the Farmers Market and set up a roadstand.  That’s ok, everyone needs to make a buck in this economy and I admit, I have bought from them.  Now,  I’m more careful to look over produce and try to find out where someone comes from to determine if in fact, they’re farmers.  Only because, I prefer to buy straight from the person who “played in the dirt”.  Once I have their names, I return to their stand each visit thereafter.  I’ve even been known to call a farmer ahead to see if they would be at the market the next day.  Yeah, I stalk like that.

I’m pretty much over the fresh thing and not so afraid of buying canned or frozen.  I still do though buy straight off the produce shelf in between the water sprays because there is nothing like holding something that appears fresh out of the garden, especially if it has dirt and sand all over it.

For two people

16 pieces of shrimp, thawed in bowl of water
two slices bacon, browned and chopped
one 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Organic Brand Fire Roasted Tomatoes
8 oz linguine
1/4 cup Marsala
One tbls butter

Begin boiling the pasta.  Fry bacon, drain the grease, de-glaze with Marsala and be sure to scrape the junk from the pan for flavoring.  Drop butter in to help thicken while de-glazing.  Add the shrimp to liquid.  Turn the shrimp for a nice flavorful coating.  Allow the liquid to cook down some then add a can of fire roasted tomatoes.   Add the pasta to marry the ingredients together.  Plate and top with chopped bacon bits.

Serve a nice mixed baby green lettuce salad topped with red onion and cherry tomatoes as a side dish and compliment with your favorite wine.


About Pam Rauber

Photographer, Writer, Home Chef.

4 responses to “Shrimp, Buy Frozen or Fresh?”

  1. IamSimplyTia says :

    I just made this last Sunday. My husband absolutely loved it! (and so did I). And I, like you, ALWAYS have frozen shrimp in the fridge. Right now I have three two pound bags (jumbo, medium and small) Shrimp for days! I learned a few years ago that they defrost frozen fish in the markets and claim it to be fresh. Heck, I’m not willing to pay extra just for that. Frozen is my choice all day!

  2. Charissa says :

    That looks so amazing! And I almost always get frozen shrimp! It’s cheaper…and it seems to come in bigger packages!
    Your recipe looks absolutely fantastic!

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