By Analiese Paik
The season for sweet, Gulf of Maine shrimp is here but a lot has changed since last year. Quotas set by the the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have been reduced by 50% to 2,000 metric tons this season, thereby creating tight supplies and higher prices. Such quotas are necessary to avoid overfishing and possible depletion of fish stocks. Tom Pennimon of Pemaquid Lobster & Seafood spoke with me today from a shrimp boat in New Harbor, Mass. saying that they’d caught over 1,500 pounds today, but due to such a drastic reduction in supply, Pemaquid will be selling shrimp for three weeks only in Connecticut.
Pemaquid is a vendor at the Winter Farmers’ Market at Norfield Grange and will be selling fresh whole Maine shrimp with the shell and head on for $2.50-$3.00 a pound, perhaps some with the heads off, and shelled (meat only) for 8.99 a pound for three Saturdays only – February 11, 18 and 25. The best value by far is shrimp with the shell and head on. Cooking the shrimp intact gives it much better flavor and texture too. If your eaters refuse to deal with whole shrimp, peel and dehead the shrimp yourself and save the shells for shrimp stock. They freeze well.
Cook these sweet and petite, seasonal delicacies briefly in highly salted water (no other seasonings please!) until they’re just firm, then crowd around the table for a feast. Add a simple farmers’ market salad and a fresh loaf of bread and you have a meal. This season I’m going to try gently poaching the shrimp both in a mild and infused olive oil from Olivette. I’m concerned that any assertive flavors will overpower the shrimp, so this is an experiment. A few recipes can be found on Pemaquid’s website. How do you cook your Maine shrimp?