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Shrimp, Lobsters, and Scallops

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Fish and Seafood

Fall Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(3) pages: 32 to 36

An overview article about sea creatures appeared in Flavor and Fortune’s Volume 22(1) issue about abalone, clams, crabs. cuttlefish, geoduck, mussels, octopus, shrimp, and squid. It was minimal and only had one recipe for each of them. As promised, we continue in this vein in this and in future issues with more about sea creatures, a few in each issue. Most will have five recipes for each and this issue explories shrimp, lobsters, and scallops. Others will follow.

SHRIMP are the most popular and most consumed marine swimmer in the United States, likewise in China. They have many legs and live in and love the water. Some countries call the large ones prawns, but there is no specific definition for them in the US we know of. Many people believe prawns are big shrimp; but this is not always true. The Chinese name for shrimp is xiao xia, and some use the word xiao for shrimp and it does mean 'small.'

There are a few species of shrimp with extra-long legs such as the Macrobranchium rosenbergii. These are well-known in Thailand; and some folk there prefer them to fish because of their size. Others say “if there are no fish then these big shrimp can fill the bill.” All shrimp, be they fresh-water, coastal-water, or deep-water swimmers are preferred by Americans more than fish are, no matter their size. This is not always true for the Chinese. Many of them prefer fish to shrimp.

In Taiwan, they adore shrimp roe, particularly when cooked with Chinese celery and sesame oil, a bit of salt, fresh ginger, scallions, and Chinese rice wine. Roe, that is the eggs of shrimp, are not common nor are they preferred. In the United States there is no definition nor differentiation as to size of roe; nor is there for the size of shrimp, either. In the US, size usually means how many to the pound, fresh or cooked, with or without a rub. One popular rub is made with ground coriander, dill, oregano, celery seed, dill, and salt, with or without bay leaves.

Hard-shelled shrimp are known as rock shrimp, and all shrimp are crustaceans. Al are stalk-eyed and with narrow tails. Their tails are actually their abdomens, used to propel them forward, sideways, too. Most shrimp have skinny legs. They live between one and seven years; and no matter how long they live, they look gray, brown, or translucent when swimming, and they all turn pink when cooked.

People love shrimp. Man consumes more than half of them farmed. Fresh, they are widespread in every waterway, most swimming near the floor of their habitat be it fresh or salt water, often at fifteen thousand feet.

Shrimp shells can be soft or more firm, the segment behind the head is followed with six others and five pairs of legs. The first pair nearest the head are longer and larger than the others. Often eight pairs follow these bigger ones; and all are called swimmerettes. Many, but not all species, use the first pair for insemination, some actually have gills in this first pair.

Rock shrimp are lobster-look-alikes, and they are related to crabs and crayfish but do lack the large claws found on American lobsters. We have eaten rock shrimp when visiting coastal areas of Florida and do adore them. They can also be found in the Gulf of Mexico, California, in the Mediterranean, also around the British isles, and along many continental shelf areas.

Shrimp are not new to man; many species were around from at least the Jurassic period. Thousands of kinds were said to have existed in those earlier times but they are extant now. These days, more than twenty species are farmed, more farmed than captured at sea. About one-quarter of the farmed shrimp come from Latin America, almost three-quarters come from China, the rest from many other places world-wide.

All shrimp have low levels of saturated fat, are high in calcium, have large amounts of omega three fatty acids, and when compared to fin fish often have lower levels of mercury. As to their cholesterol content, shrimp and lobster have seventy milligrams of cholesterol in each hundred milligrams, but canned shrimp are known to have twice that amount. Scallops have only half as much cholesterol.

Worldwide, some but not many people have serious allergies to shrimp. Many traditional Chinese medical practitioners advise pregnant women not to eat them; reasons not always clear. We know of no hard evidence but do know their reasons change when we ask the same individual the same question at a different time.

When asked by shoppers about the size of shrimp per pound in the United States, we have been told that medium shrimp have twenty-three to thirty shrimp per pound, large have fifteen to twenty-three per pound, and jumbo shrimp have fifteen or fewer per pound. These categories can and do vary. We have purchased a pound of jumbo shrimp and received as few as five and as many as seventeen. Be aware these numbers are not fixed in stone.

The Chinese like to cook and eat their shrimp with the shells left on, they and the veins removed and discarded. To do remove the veins, they cut through the shells to remove them. They also like to suck out what they call ‘shrimp brains.’ They tell us they do that so they will be smarter after eating them. These is no research that we have read that proved that.

The Chinese know hundreds upon hundreds of shrimp recipes steamed, boiled, stir-fried, deep-fried, etc. We have found fewer dried shrimp recipes than fresh ones. Most need to be reconstituted in one of many ways. Fresh or dried, shrimp can be stuffed, chopped, mixed with meats or vegetables. There seems to be no limit as to how to use them. Recipes for them and all sea creatures in this article appear after they are discussed, often together as a group.

LOBSTER is the second most popular seafood in the United States, in restaurants that is. This may not be true in people’s homes where their use has to do with their cost.

In Chinese, these crustaceans are called long xia rou and for the most part, there are two species of them. There is 'Homarus' from the Atlantic; those from the northern hemisphere are 'Nephrops' while those from the southern hemisphere are known as 'Metanephrops.' The former are also known as ‘the American lobster’ and they have big wide claws which some call their ‘fat claws.’ These can regenerate, their antennae can, too.

There are other groups of crustaceans called lobsters such as 'Nephropidae' or spiny lobsters which some call ‘rock’ lobsters. They have small short claws with little meat in them. For these lobsters most of their meat is in their tail. They are found along the Florida coasts, around the British Isles, and in or near the Mediterranean, and are better known as 'Langostines.' They do look like lobsters but have thin claws, and most of them live on the continental shelf or on other ocean slopes.

All lobsters have heavily armored head and tail sections, claws too, and all molt or lose their shells and grow new ones annually. The most prized meat in all lobsters is in their tail sections; and many tails are sold without their bodies.

Most lobsters live in murky waters and use their antennae as sensors. Their eyes have a convex retina, and many have blue blood because of the high copper content compared to other animals with red blood due to their high iron content. Lobster blood can be clear and when boiled can turn opaque, sort of a whitish gel. It has no flavor and is healthy to eat.

Large lobsters can live to be sixty years old, and they add new muscle cells each time they molt. Some are found on land, but most are found in or near oceans. They generally live alone and burrow under rocks. They eat fish, molluscs, other crustaceans, worms, and some do eat some plant life.

These days, people think of lobsters as food for the rich. However, before the nineteenth century, they were thought of as food for the poor. The rich had no taste for them. These crustaceans were available millions of years ago when few ate them; and these days the poor rarely get a chance to eat any.

The sex of lobsters is determined by examining the first set of appendages behind the first pair. These are known as their walkers. Males are more bony, females have tails that are broad compared to the males; and this is so to hold all their eggs. Females can carry thousands of them attached to their swimmerets (also spelled swimmerettes). They can stay attached for a year, depending upon the temperature of the water.

Lobsters molt, that is shed their hard shells by splitting up the back and crawling out backwards. Then they increase in size about twenty percent. They do this about twenty or twenty-five times before they are of legal size, and they can molt four or five times each year. For the first few months of their lives, their shells are quite soft; and they seem to know that so they hide for up to eight weeks until a new shell hardens. Their larvae also molt; sometimes they do this while still in the egg, and again often until they are recognizable as lobsters.

These crustaceans eat small crabs, sea urchins, and sea stars, and can do so even when their claws are banded. Both claws are not the same, one is usually the crusher, the other the pincer; and the Chinese and most others like to eat either one. They like them steamed, boiled, sir-fried, or prepared in any number of other ways, and they eat them alone or cooked with other sea creatures, with meat from four-legged animals, and with vegetables whole or in parts. Many prefer them with sauce, some eat lobsters with none, and it seem that they always enjoy them!

SCALLOPS are white and wonderful, fresh and close to white when dried. They are the muscles of sea creatures in the Mollosca family as are snails, squid, and sea slugs which the Chinese call 'sea cucumbers' but animals of those names are something different. In Chinese, scallops are shan bei, and they are loved. Dried ones are known in English as ‘conpoy’ and most are in the family Pectinoidea though name changing of many sea creatures seems to be in progress.

Scallops are found inside two fan-shaped shells held together with a tough hinge, its abductor muscle. In Taiwan, their roe or eggs are popular, less so in the United States. Dried scallops are preferred in China; and there and in the United States they are expensive.

Scallops have well developed eyes complete with lens, retina, cornea, and an optic nerve. We do not know if or how they see, or simply if they are feeling high current areas as they filter water searching for food. In addition to these sophisticated visuals, scallops have both male and female sex organs in the same animal. They release their eggs and sperm into the water and there they fertilize other scallops.

There are two kinds of scallops, depending upon where they are found; those that swim in the sea and others that swim in bays. Bay scallops are smaller and most often are Argopecten irradem. Those from the sea are known as Pectin maximus, Chlamys rubica, or Chlamys hericia. There are other names for both kinds in different countries. Either kind provides about one hundred calories per hundred grams, both are high in protein and potassium, and low in calories and fat.

When dried, scallops, known as 'conpoy' and are a different color, usually more orange, and they have a stronger aroma, also a different texture, and they look like they have cracks top to bottom. Dried ones need to be soaked for many hours, then torn apart in thin strips. Like mussels, when live, scallops can secure themselves to a hard surface using a thread or byssus similar to a beard on a mussel, or they can clap their shells together tightly and swim about aimlessly. Most scallops are hermaphrodites with orange or coral roe. They live in water about one hundred eighty feet deep.

Scallops in the Mediterranean have somewhat flattened shells and are Pectin jacobaeus. while those in the Atlantic live deeper and are called Placopectin magellicanus. No matter where they live, scallops need related time to size for cooking, bigger ones take longer than do bay scallops; and both kinds do get rubbery if overcooked.
Lettuce with Shrimp Two Ways
1 head iceberg lettuce, using only the ten outer leaves
1/4 cup dried shrimp, soaked for twenty minutes, then drained
3 Tablespoons minced bamboo shoots
1/4 pound fresh shrimp, diced small
½ chicken breast, diced small
2 Tablespoons crab meat, diced small (optional)
10 wide rice noodles, soaked until soft, then fried and crushed
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
dash of ground white pepper
½ teaspoon granulated sugar>br> Preparation:
1. Rinse then set lettuce leaves on a platter.
2. Mix dry and fresh shrimp, bamboo shoots, chicken breast, crab mea if using it, oyster sauce, and half the crushed wide noodles.
3. Mix curry powder, salt and pepper, and the sugar, then toss with the shrimp mixture.
4. Put a few teaspoons of the shrimp mixture in each lettuce leaf, top with the rest of the fried noodles, and roll them then put them back on the platter, and serve.
Yangzhou Fried Rice
6 dried black mushrooms, soaked, stems discarded, caps diced
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces roast pork, coarsely diced
4 cups cooked cold rice
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1/4 pound fresh shrimp, peeled, their shells and veins discarded
½ chicken breast, cooked and diced
½ cup bamboo shoots diced
½ cup frozen peas
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix black mushrooms, eggs, roast pork, cold rice, rice wine, shrimp, chicken, bamboos shoots, and the peas.
2. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil, and when hot, add the rice mixture and stir-fry for two minutes, then add the soy sauce, scallions, and the salt and pepper, and stir-fry until there are no lumps in the rice; about two to three minutes Serve hot.
Napa Cabbage, Onions, and Seaweed
4 inches daikon, peeled and minced
1 cup chicken stock
12 dry shrimp, soaked for twenty minutes, then remove and veins and shells and discard
6 back mushrooms, soaked until soft, stems discarded, caps minced fine, soaking water set aside
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Chinese sausage, minced
2 Tablespoon cilantro, minced
1 cup rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (optional>
1. Cook daikon in chicken stock until it is soft.
2. Mix shrimp, mushrooms, mushroom water, cornstarch, rice flour, salt, and daikon and the stock; add sausages and bring to the boil, then add ciantro and salt, and pour into a shallow pan, cover, refrigerate overnight. 3. It will be set, and cut into two-inch squares and brown them in the oil. Serve hot plain or with oyster sauce.
Shrimp with Long Beans and Doufu
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons dried shrimp soaked in warm water for twenty minutes, veins and shells removed and discarded
5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
3 Tablespoons preserved radish, soaked then sliced
1/4 pound long beans, cut into two-inch pieces
2 one-pound squares firm doufu, cut into one-inch cubes
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
1 red hot chili pepper, seeded and slivered
1. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil, then stir-fry the soaked dried shrimp, garlic, and the radish and stir-fry for one minute.
2. Next add the long bean pieces and stir-fry another minute or two before adding the doufu and the soy sauce and stir-fry for two minutes.
3. Now add the chili pepper and stir fry one more minute, then serve on a pre-heated platter.
Pork Balls on Lotus leaves
1 dry lotus leaf, soaked for one hour
1/2 pound ground or minced pork
1/2 pound minced shrimp
1/4 pound zha cai, minced
½ cup Napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 green piquant chili peppers, seeded and minced
½ pound soft doufu
2 Tablespoons minced coriander leaves
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 shallots, peeled and minced fine
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut lotus leaves into two-inch squares and set aside on a heat-proof platter.
2. Mix all the other ingredients and make one to two-inch balls.
3. Place these balls on the cut leaf pieces and steam over boiling water for twenty minutes, the serve.
Lobster and Corn Soup
4 large slices fresh ginger, peeled
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup canned corn kernels
1 lobster tail or four claws cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 scallion, green part only, minced
1. Boil ginger in two tablespoons water for one minute, then add the lobster pieces, stir for one minute, then remove them and set aside.
2. Add corn, salt, sherry, and the egg white mixed with the cornstarch and stir until it thickens. Then return the lobster meat to the pan, add four cups boiling water, then serve.
Lobster-stuffed Broccoli
1 cup lobster meat, minced
1 Tablespoon chicken fat
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1. Blanch the broccoli for one minute, then put the florettes in colf water for two or three minutes, then drain.
2. Mix lobster, chicken fat, garlic and cornstarch, and coat each piece of broccoli with this mixture.
3. Heat the sesame oil, chicken stock, and the sugar, and put this and the broccoli in a small heat-proof bowl and steam over boiling water for three or four minutes, Drain ans serve.
Lobster, Chiu Chow Style
1 lobster steamed for ten minutes, meat removed from their shells, the tail cut into two-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
6 large slices of fresh ginger, peeled
3 scallions, white part only, sliced on an angle
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
6 ounces rice noodles, cooked until soft, then drained and tossed with one tablespoon sesame oil
6 bowls hot chicken broth or stock
1. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil, and fry the lobster pieces for no more than one minute, then remove them from the pan and set them aside.
2. Put oil in a clay pot and add the ginger and scallions, salt, and scallion pieces and stir once or twice before adding the salt and the sesame oil.
3. Mix chicken broth and the half cup cornstarch, stir in the pieces of lobster and the cooked noodles. Give every one a bowl of hot broth, and a long-handled fork, help them to take pieces of lobster from the clay pot to eat with their broth.
Lobster Cantonese
1/3 pound minced pork (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground back pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons chopped fermented black beans
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 lobster in its shell. chopped into reasonable-size edible parts
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten well
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1. Mix pork, if using it, and the salt, pepper, the sugar, cornstarch, and the fermented black beans. Set this aside.
2. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil and the garlic and stir-fry one minute, then add the pork mixture and stir-fry for one more minute, stirring continuously.
3. Add the lobster pieces and when they are hot, add the broth and the cornstarch. Mix this with the cornstarch and stir until it starts to thicken, then pour into a pre-heated serving bowl with the beaten eggs. Now stir in the sesame oil, and serve.
Lobster Casserole
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 scallions, knotted
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound or two cups of lobster meat
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one-quarter of one cup of cold water
2 eggs, beaten well
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil, then the scallions and garlic and stir-fry until all are light brown.
2. Next add the lobster meat and chicken broth and cover stirring it for two minutes.
3. Add the eggs, and stir, then put into a heat-proof casserole with a cover. Bake for half an hour at 325 degrees F. Then serve.

Lobster stuffed Broccoli Ingredients:

1 small head of broccoli cut into small pieces
1 cup lobster, minced
1 Tablespoon chicken fat
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon granulated sugar


1. Blanch the broccoli for one minute, then put them in cold water for two or three minutes, and then drain and discard the water.
2. Mix lobster, chicken fat, garlic, and cornstarch and coat each piece of broccoli with this.
3. Heat sesame oil, chicken stock, and the sugar, and put this and the broccoli in a small heat-proof bowl and steam over boiling water for three or four minutes. Now drain and discard any liquid, and serve.

Scallops, Mushrooms, and Water Chestnuts
1/2 pound sea scallops
10 Chinese black mushrooms, all soaked in two cups boiling water for half an hour, reserve their water
10 water chestnuts
5 slices fresh ginger, peeled
1 egg
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scallion, angle sliced
1. Using half the scallops, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and ginger, grind them in a food processor; mince the other half.
2. Mix the ground half with the egg, rice wine, and salt and make one-inch balls. Make the other half also into one-inch balls. Simmer them all in a pot in two cups of water, for ten minutes.
3. Add the mushroom water, rice wine, and the salt and simmer another five minutes, then add the scallions and bring this to the boil, then serve it in individual soup bowls.

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