In the Pink (Shrimp Season)
Local fishers trawl the Oregon coast for this sweet, luscious, sustainable delicacy.
The Oregon pink shrimp catch is in – and it’s quite a catch. Just last week a couple of trawlers had to be rescued by the Coast Guard because their haul had been so immense (10 tons and 25 tons, respectively) that they had become “disabled.” Well, their disability (and the Coast Guard’s ability to rescue) is all the better for our ability to enjoy the sustainably caught harvest of Oregon Pink Shrimp this season.
This type of shrimp, the itsy-bitsy, fingertip-sized kind, is often called "bay shrimp," but that’s a misnomer. These creatures hail from the Pacific Ocean. Fishing boats (many owned by family fishers) trawl the ocean floor during daylight hours (the shrimp move about during the night) for pink shrimp season, which generally begins April 1st and lasts through early fall.
90% of the shrimp you’ll find in the U.S. is farm-raised, but the pink shrimp we get fresh here in Oregon is wild-caught and sustainable. The Marine Stewardship Council began certifying it as such in 2007. The taste of these shrimp is sweet, delicate and delicious – quite unlike the rubbery, bland flavor of typical canned "bay shrimp" found year-round at salad bars or not so fine restaurants.
If you don't want to serve pink shrimp in a simple cold salad, you might try this imaginative Chinese dish from Laura McCandish (a food writer who used to live in Oregon but now lives in Maine), which she originally presented on NPR.
Dragon Well Green Tea Shrimp (Longjing Xiaren)
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, divided
2 tablespoons egg white (from one large egg)
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 heaping tablespoons Longjing tea (or any other loose green tea)
1/2 cup hot water
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon scallion, chopped (white part only)
Chopped scallions (green part) or chives for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sherry vinegar for dipping
- In a medium bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the rice wine and then stir in the egg white and mix until velvety. Marinate the shrimp (or chicken) in this mixture for at least 15 minutes.
- Brew the green tea leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve both the liquid and the rehydrated leaves.
- In a wok, heat a tablespoon of the oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until just pink but not done, about 1 minute. Remove the shrimp and set aside.
- Heat second tablespoon of oil in wok. Add scallion (white parts) and saute about 30 seconds. Return to shrimp to pan, pour in strained green tea liquid and add salt. Stir-fry on high until shrimp are cooked and liquid is reduced, about 3 minutes.
- Plate and garnish with chopped green onions and reserved tea leaves. Serve with dipping bowls of sherry vinegar.