Crocodile Dundee immortalized the saying, “Throw some shrimp on the barbie,” even though true Australians more likely use the word prawns. But that’s wrong, as well. Prawns are, in fact, a totally different species of crustacean, closer to miniature Maine lobsters, but with smaller pinchers, like the French langoustine. (Some use the term for very large shrimp, also erroneous.) Whatever you call them, in the American diet, more shrimp are consumed than any other crustacean.
When buying shrimp, note that they should smell salty like the sea and should cook up plump and firm. The bigger the shrimp, the bigger the price. (Generally, a U10 means 10 shrimp per pound, a U20 notes 20 shrimp per pound and so on.) If you can find them, look for shrimp with heads intact because, if sold soon after catching, they tend to be the freshest. Farm-raised are less expensive than the wild, and are usually sold sans head.
Cooked shrimp will hold longer wrapped in your refrigerator than raw shrimp, but you should use any seafood as fast as you can or freeze it for later. And always save shrimp heads and shells for use in stocks, bisques or sauces.
But enough shrimp facts, let’s get to the recipes, which showcase the versatility of this crustacean. I’ve picked dishes that involve flavors from spicy to sweet, from Asian to French. Now fire up the grill (or frying pan) and do as Mr. Dundee commands.
Andrew Evans is the chef and owner of the Inn at Easton.