Cold, hard truth: Frozen shrimp are great to have on hand

Cooking for Two

They're convenient and fast and not as perishable as fresh

January 12, 2003|By Bev Bennett | By Bev Bennett,Special to the Sun

On a recent stop at my supermarket fish counter, I noticed a clerk heaping frozen shrimp into a display where it would thaw over the course of the day. I wasn't shocked to learn that the shrimp was frozen. I've long been disabused of the notion that the shrimp in most supermarkets is fresh. After all, I live in the Midwest, not in some coastal fishing village.

But I began to question my shopping habits. Why buy thawed shrimp I have to use immediately when it would be so much more convenient to buy frozen shellfish and keep it frozen until needed? After all, I don't buy frozen thawed fruits and vegetables in the winter. Why not buy frozen shrimp and defrost it as needed?

It's been a great convenience. The freezer is stocked with frozen shrimp for casseroles, soups, salads and stews. Whenever I'm at a loss for a quick entree, shrimp comes to the rescue. I prefer shelled raw shrimp that I can drop frozen into a simmering pot. Shell-on shrimp require thawing and peeling first. I don't, however, recommend purchasing precooked shrimp. They're not only more expensive, but they tend to get tough when added to foods that need cooking. Precooked shrimp are fine for salads or sandwich fillings.

You'll also notice when buying shrimp that the price increases with size. Small shrimp are fine for soups, stews, pasta and any other mixed dishes. Save your money for something splashy such as broiled shrimp with garlic butter.

If chicken soup is a regular feature on your winter menu, prepare a zesty shrimp variation with no more effort. Start with chicken broth, but add Asian vegetables instead of the usual carrots and celery. Drop in baby shrimp and a dash of fresh lime juice for a zesty antidote to the cold.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services International

Hot Shrimp and Vegetable Soup

Makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 baby bok choy, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

three 1/4 -inch-thick slices ginger

one (10 1/2 -ounce) can chicken broth

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions

6 ounces frozen raw baby shrimp

1 cup cooked rice

1 tablespoon lime juice

Heat oil in medium pan. Add mushrooms, bok choy and ginger and saute 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low. Add red pepper flakes, green onions and shrimp and simmer 7 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Stir in rice and heat 1 to 2 minutes. Add lime juice. Remove ginger slices. Serve hot.

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