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Shrimp, Lobsters, and Scallops, continued

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Fish and Seafood

Spring Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(1) pages: 31 to 36

An overview article about sea creatures appeared introducing abalone, clams, crabs, cuttlefish, geoduck, mussels, octopus, shrimp, and squid. That was in Volume 22-1 and did provide one recipe for each of them. Upcoming issues did continue to explore these and other swimmers with many recipes for each one. Then the Fall 2015 issue about the above three were quickly gobbled up. We needed to print more and decided it was worth repeating and expanding this information. Therefore, we do so repeating some information that was most popular, adding others omitted; also adding other recipes.

SHRIMP are the most popular and most consumed marine animal in the United States and in China. They have many legs and they live in and love the water. Some countries call the large ones prawns, some call small ones shrimp, and others do the reverse. In the US, there is no specific definition for them size-wise, though many people think prawns are simply bigger shrimp. In the UK virtually all of these animals are called prawns, yet in some countries, the reverse is true. The Chinese name for shrimp can be xiao xia , Xiao does mean small, so many just call then xia. Big or small, there are some in Chinese, who call the big ones da xiao. All shrimp, be they from fresh-water, coastal-water, or the deep-sea, are preferred more by most Americans than are fish, no matter their size. This is not always true for the Chinese. Many of them prefer fresh fish to shrimp, fresh or frozen.

There are a few species of shrimp with extra-long legs such as the Macrobranchium rosenbergii. . These are well-known in Thailand where some 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 are fish, no matter their size. This is not true for the Chinese. Many of them prefer steamed fish to shrimp no matter how they are made.

In Taiwan, they adore shrimp roe, particularly when cooked with Chinese celery, sesame oil, a bit of salt, fresh ginger, scallions, and Chinese rice wine. Roe is the eggs of a swimming animal, in this case shrimp, and they are not common nor are they preferred in the US. There is. no definition nor differentiation as to the size of the roe; the size of the shrimp, either, and in the US, size 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, and salt, with or without bay leaves.

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

People love shrimp, and man consumes more than half of them as farmed animals. Fresh, they are widespread in every waterway, and most shrimp swim 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 this bigger pair. 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 lack the large claws found in American lobsters. We have eaten rock shrimp when visiting coastal areas of Florda and we do adore them. They can also be found in the Gulf of Mexico, in California, in the Mediterranean, around the British isles, and along many continental shelf areas.

Shrimp are not new creatures to man. Many species were around from at least the Jurassic period when thousands of kinds existed in these earlier times. However, they are extant now. These days, more than twenty species are farmed, yes, more are farmed than captured at sea. About one-quarter of the farmed ones come from Latin America, almost three-quarters 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, canned shrimp known to have twice that amount. Scallops have only half as much cholesterol as do shrimp.

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 reasons change when we ask the same individual the same question at a different time.

When asking shoppers about the size of shrimp per pound in the US, we are told that medium shrimp are some twenty-three to thirty shrimp per pound, large are fifteen to twenty-three per pound, and jumbo shrimp are fifteen or fewer per pound. These categories can and do vary, and 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, the veins removed and discarded. To do that, they cut through the back shell to remove the veins. They also like to suck out what they call the ‘shrimp brain.’ They tell us they do that so they will be smarter after eating them. These is no research we read that says that.

Overall, the Chinese know hundreds upon hundreds of shrimp recipes be they steamed, boiled, stir-fried, deep-fried, etc. We have found fewer dried shrimp recipes than fresh ones in Chinese cookbooks; yet Asian supermarkets have huge jars of them for sale. Most of these need to be reconstituted in one of many ways. Fresh or dried, shrimp can be stuffed, chopped, mixed with meats or vegetables, or just boiled and eaten plain.. There seems to be no limit as to how to use them and recipes for them and all sea creatures in this article appear at the end of the article.

LOBSTERS are the second most popular seafood in the United States, in restaurants that is. This is not be true in people’s homes where their use is related to their cost, so they are less popular because of that. In Chinese these crustaceans are called long xia rou, and there are two main species, Homarus are from the Atlantic; those from the northern hemisphere are Nephrops. 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 ‘fat claws.’ These claws can regenerate, antennae can, too.

There are other groups of crustaceans called lobsters. They are Nephropidae or spiny lobsters which some call ‘rock’ lobsters. They have small short claws with little meat in them. These lobsters have most of their meat in their tail. They are found along the Florida coasts, around the British Isles, and in or near the Mediterranean. Better known as Langostines, they do look like lobsters but have thin claws. Most of them live on the continental shelf or 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 at least once a year. The most prized meat in all lobsters is usually in their tail sections. Many of their 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 the high iron content. Lobster blood and be a clear liquid that when boiled turns opaque, sort of a whitish gel. It has no flavor but is healthy to eat. Large lobsters can live to be sixty years old. They add new muscle cells each time they molt. Some are found on land, but most are found in or near an ocean. Generally they live alone and burrow under rocks. They eat fish, molluscs, other crustaceans, worms, and some 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 them.

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 are broad compared to the males; this is to hold their eggs. Females can carry thousands of eggs attached to their swimmerets (also spelled swimmerettes); and they can stay attached for a year, depending upon the temperature of the water.

Lobsters molt or shed their hard shells by splitting up the back and crawling out backwards. After they molt, the commonly increase in size about twenty percent. They do this some 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. They seem to know that, and so they hide for up to eight weeks until a new shell hardens. Their larvae also molt; that is they do so while still in the egg and many more times until they are recognizable as lobsters.

These crustaceans eat small crabs, sea urchins, and sea stars. They do so even when their claws are banded. Both claws are not the same, one is usually the crusher, the other the pincer. Chinese and most others like to eat either one, and they like whole lobsters steamed, boiled, sir-fried, or prepared in any number of other ways. 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 them with none, and the Chinese tell me they always enjoy them.

SCALLOPS are are white and wonderful when fresh. The Chinese prefer them dried, then reconstituted. Scallops are the muscles of sea creatures in the Mollosca family as are snails, squid, and sea slugs, which the Chinese call sea cucumbers. In Chinese, scallops are shan bei and they are loved. In English, we know the dried ones as ‘conpoy.’ Some are in the family Pectinoidea, though name changing of many sea creatures seems to be in progress, so you may see them by other names.

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 Americans tel us they are too 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 on just one scallop. They release their eggs and their sperm into the water and there they fertilize other scallops.

Mainly there are two kinds of scallops, depending upon where they are found; those that swim in the sea and others that swim in a bay. Bay scallops are one quarter the size of sea scallops and most often are Argopecten irradem. Those from the sea are bigger and known as Pectin maximus, Chlamys rubica or Chlamys hericia. There are other names for both kinds of scallops in different countries, and either kind has about one hundred calories per one hundred grams. Both are high in protein and potassium, and low in calories and fat.

When dried, scallops can often be a different color. Then they are not white but usually more orange, and they have a strong aroma, a different texture, and look like they come with cracks top to bottom. Dried ones need to be soaked for many hours, then torn apart into thin strips. Like mussels, scallops can secure themselves to a hard surface using a thread called a byssus which is similar to the beards on mussels. They can also clap their shells together and swim about aimlessly. Most scallops are hermaphrodites; and they have orange or coral roe, and live in water about one hundred eighty feet deep.

Scallops in the Mediterranean have somewhat flatter shells and they are from the Pectin jacobaeus genus. Those in the Atlantic live deeper that those elsewhere, and they are called Placopectin magellicanus. No matter where they live, scallops need a related amount of time to size for cooking, the bigger ones take somewhat longer to cook than do bay scallops, which are about one-quarter the size of the larger or sea scallops. Both kinds get rubbery if they are overcooked.
Yangzhou Fried Rice
6 dried black mushrooms, soaked, stems discarded and 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 veins removed and 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 a wok or fry pan, add the oil and when it is hot, add the rice mixture and stir-fry for two minutes, then add soy sauce, scallions, and the salt and pepper, and stir-fry until there are no lumps in the rice; about two to three minutes, stirring well. Then serve hot.
Lettuce and Shrimp Two Ways
1 head iceberg lettuce, its ten outer leaves only
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 dry rice noodles, crushed, soaked until soft, then fried
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
dash of ground white pepper
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1. Rinse, shake off all the water, then set lettuce leaves on a platter.
2. Mix dry and fresh shrimp, bamboo shoots, chicken breast, crab meat, if using it, the oyster sauce and half the fried 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.
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.
Turnip Dian Xing Cake with Shrimp
4 inches daikon radish, peeled and minced
1 cup chicken stock
12 dry shrimp, soaked for twenty minutes, any veins and shells discarded
6 black mushrooms, soaked until soft in one cup warm water, stems discarded, and minced fine, mushroom water set aside
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Chinese sausage, minced
2 Tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 cup rice flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (optional)
1. Cook the daikon in the chicken stock until almost soft.
2. Mix shrimp, minced mushrooms, mushroom water, cornstarch, rice flour, salt, and daikon and soup it was cooked in, adding the sausage. Bring this to the boil, add the cilantro and salt and pour into a shallow pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
3. Cut this set mixture into two-inch squares and brown in the oil. Serve hot, plain or with oyster sauce.
Pork and Shrimp Balls on Banana or Lotus Leaves
1 dry banana or lotus leaf, soaked for one hour
1 pound ground or minced pork
1/2 pound minced fresh shrimp
1/4 pound zha cai or another green leafy vegetable, minced
½ cup Napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 green chili peppers, seeded and minced
½ pound soft doufu
2 Tablespoons minced coriander leaves
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 shallots, peeled and mince fine
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut banana or lotus leaves into two-inch squares and set aside on a heat-proof platter.
2. Mix all the other ingredients and make one- or two-inch balls.
3. Place these balls on the cut leaf pieces and steam over boiling water for twenty minutes, then serve.
Lobster and Corn Soup
4 large slices fresh ginger, peeled
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup canned or fresh corn kernels, if fresh, boil them for two minutes
1 lobster tail or 4 claws, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 scallion, green part, minced
1. Boil ginger in two tablespoons water for one minute, then add lobster pieces and stir for one minute, and then remove them and set them aside.
2. Add corn, salt, sherry, and the egg white mixed with the cornstarch, and stir until it thickens, then return the lobster to the pot and add four cups of boiling water, stir, and serve.
Lobster, Chiu Chow Style
1 lobster steamed for ten minutes, meat removed from its shells, tail meat 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
½ cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
6 ounces shrimp 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, then add salt and the sesame oil.
3. Mix chicken broth and the cornstarch, stir in the pieces of lobster and the cooked noodles. Give each person a bowl of hot broth and a long-handled fork, helping them to lobster from the clay pot to eat with their broth.
Lobster Cantonese
1/3 pound minced pork
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black 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 edible parts
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten well
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1. Mix pork with the salt and pepper, sugar, cornstarch, and the fermented black beans, and 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. Next add the lobster pieces and when hot, add the broth and the cornstarch. Mix this with the pre-heated broth, and stir until thickened. Now pour into a pre-heated serving bowl, add the beaten eggs, and stir in the sesame oil, and serve.
Lobster-stuffed Broccoli
1 small head of broccoli cut into small pieces
1 cup lobster meat, 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 it in cold water for three minutes, drain well, 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 sugar, and put this and the broccoli in a small heat-proof bowl and steam over boiling water for three minutes, then drain and discard any liquid, and serve.
Lobster Casserole
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 scallions, each one knotted
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound of or two cups of lobster meat
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one-quarter of a cup of cold water
2 eggs, beaten well
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil, then add scallions and garlic and stir-fry until all are light brown, about two minutes.
2. Then add lobster meat and chicken broth, stir once or twice.
. 3. Add the eggs, and stir, then put this in to a heat-proof casserole with a cover, and bake for half an hour at 325 degrees F. Then serve.
Scallops, Mushrooms, and Water Chestnuts
½ pound sea scallops, divided
10 Chinese black mushrooms soaked in two cups boiling water for half an hour, drain, and reserve the water
10 water chestnuts
5 slices fresh ginger, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
½ teaspoon salt
1 scallion, angle sliced
1. Using half the scallops, grind one-half of the mushrooms, water chestnuts and ginger in a food processor. Coarsely mince the other half of this mixture.
2. Mix the ground half with the egg, rice wine, and the salt and make into one-inch balls, and simmer them for ten minutes in a large pot in two cups of water.
3. Add the mushroom water, rice wine, and the salt and simmer both sets of balls another three minutes, then add the scallions and bring to the boil and immediately remove from the heat source and serve in soup bowls.
Scallops and Banana
1 banana cut into ten rounds
½ cup shrimp paste
4 scallops, cut in half rounds
½ cup bread crumbs
1 egg yolk beaten with one teaspoon cold water
1 cup oil
1. Dry the banana slices on paper towels and spread some of the shrimp paste on one side of each slice. Top with another slice of a scallop, and coat this sandwich with the bread crumbs.
2. Dip one side of the sandwich in egg, then in more bread crumbs.
3. Heat the oil and deep fry each piece, two at a time, until they are tan and crisp. Drain on paper towels and repeat until all are fried.
4. Turn up the heat, and fry them a second time until all are a little darker; then drain again on paper towels before serving.
Scallops in XO Sauce
10 bay scallops
10 sea scallops, each cut into four pieces
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 Tablespoon potato or water chestnut flour
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 coves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large fresh red hot chili pepper, seeded and slivered
3 Tablespoons sugar snap peas, strings removed, then slivered
2 Tablespoons XO sauce
1. Mix both kinds of scallops with the sugar, salt, and starch and set them aside to dry somewhat.
2. Heat the wok or fry pan then add the oil stir-fry the scallops for just one minute before removing them to a plate.
3. Add the garlic and chili pieces and stir-fry another minute before adding the snap pea slivers, and stir once or twice. Now return the scallops to the pan and stir twice, add the XO sauce and one tablespoon of cold water, and toss well, then serve.
Conpoy and Chicken Congee
2 cups cooked rice
8 cups chicken broth
1 conpoy, soaked for half an hour in boiling water, then torn into thin strips
1 chicken breast cut into very thin strips
3 fresh scallops, sliced into strips the same size as the conpoy
1 Tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of cold water
1 egg white, beaten lightly
1. Mix rice and broth, then add the conpoy strips and the water the were soaked in and bring to the boil, then quickly turn off the heat source and let this sit for half an hour away from the heat.
2. Add the chicken breast pieces, the fresh scallops, rice wine, salt and cornstarch and simmer for five minutes until the sauce looks clear, then add the rice and stir for one minute, then serve.
Daikon and Conpoy
3 conpoy soaked for two hours, then shredded into thin strips
2 pounds daikon, peeled and made into balls using a melon-ball-tool, or dice into half-inch squares
2 slices fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
3 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 quart chicken broth
1. Drain the shredded conpoy, then re-soak it for another two hours in one cup of hot water. Then drain and set aside.
2. Mince or grind the rest of the daikon and put it and the shredded conpoy, and the soaking liquor, ginger, salt, rice wine, sesame oil, and the broth in a large pot and simmer this for ten minutes.
3. Add the daikon pieces and simmer another five minutes, then serve in soup bowls.

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