Shrimp and the Future

The BP oil spill has been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for about a month now, with no end in sight. As oil and chemicals drift towards the Louisiana coast, it’s easy to imagine the destruction being inflicted on these fishing grounds and the people who make their livings from them. This article from the New York Times addresses the issues straight-on, explaining how the majority of our domestic seafood comes from either Louisiana or Alaska, and how this spill will likely cause seafood shortages from the Gulf. It makes me wonder, between E-coli laced meat and toxic seafood, what will be left for us to eat?

One of the many reasons why I feel so sad about the BP situation is because in the past few years, I had recently renewed my love for shrimp. It all started with my first trip to Disneyworld as a child—whenever I think about it, I don’t remember the exhilarating curves and dips of Space Mountain or the sentimental sweetness of the It’s a Small World ride. No, my most vivid memory is of sitting at a white-clothed table with my parents and younger sister in front of a tall, narrow glass filled with my first shrimp cocktail. After my initial bites of those cold boiled shrimp dipped in their deliciously zesty tarter sauce, I couldn’t get enough, and I think I had a shrimp cocktail every night for the rest of that week. Mickey Mouse and Goofy just couldn’t compete.

But something changed in my early twenties, and for a long while I couldn’t stand the sight of shrimp. It had something to do with the texture, and I didn’t touch them for years. But in an effort to partake of their health benefits, I started eating and enjoying them again a few years ago. Their mild flavor works well in a variety of recipes, from Italian to Asian and everything else in between.

Currently my favorite shrimp dish is this recipe from the New York Times, published over a year ago. From the moment it appeared, these roasted, lemon-infused shrimp and smoky, cumin- and coriander-accented broccoli took the blogging world by storm, and with good reason. Served with brown or white rice, they form an easy and healthy meal, packed with a unique and addictive combination of flavors. I’ve been making it at least once a month for the past year, and I haven’t tired of it yet.

Jim and I recently tried a Thai-inspired recipe from Food & Wine as well, an intriguing mix of grilled shrimp, garlic, cilantro, shallots, red pepper, and soba noodles, mixed with various Asian seasonings. Jim loved the spicy combination of flavors with the buckwheat noodles, and I expect this recipe to enter our regular dinner rotation as well. We slurped up every bite in one sitting.

I don’t mean to minimize the oil spill in the Gulf with petty talk about my favorite shrimp recipes; there are so many huge ramifications of this catastrophic event that it depresses me just to read about them. But talking about the impact of this spill on my daily life in Brooklyn, miles away from where it is actually happening, reminds me that I’m really not so distant from it at all. These disasters, both natural and man-made, impact us all in one way or another. Shrimp dinners are just the beginning.

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51 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    ieatmypigeon said,

    And how! I grew up in the Gulf Coast, and while I left for good 12 years ago, my fondest memories are of that incredible seafood; namely, u-peel-um shrimp. I hadn’t read those shrimp recipes before so I’m excited to get the chance to try something new. Great post!

  2. 3

    chef Dennis said,

    we can only pray that they get this mess cleaned up in the gulf….my father was stationed in Louisianna after Korea and learned to eat shriimp and taught me to love shrimp. He once told me that in those times they were considered a throw away food that only the poor ate…so when we cooked shrimp it was a 5 ob box at a time, and ate until we exploded….
    Your thai shrimp sound excellent, I love just about any shrimp dish!
    cheers
    Denns

  3. 5

    Good post. Really great recipes. Wonderful collection of spices! So worried about one of our greatest suppliers of shellfish though. My heart goes out to the shrimpers and I’m wishing them hope that their livelihood survives this BP disaster.

  4. 7

    jennyjk said,

    that looks soo good! what a great recipe!

  5. 9

    Kyle Kratky said,

    Isn’t it funny how far-reaching these kinds of things can end up being? I mean, a massive oil spill is massive all on its lonesome, but it is easy to miss just how far the ripples from it reach. Right down to our kitchens and tables.

  6. 11

    Pirogoeth said,

    Those recipes look amazing! My husband actually started to be concerned about the oil spill when I mentioned how it’ll probably be affecting the shrimping industry.

  7. 14

    Here in the UK, we have a lot of shrimp from Indonesia and the far east pushed upon us by the supermarkets cheaply, completely ignoring the issue of ethical farming. We try and buy North Atlantic shrimp but it does work out more expensive.
    I can only imagine if the oil spill causes trouble in the Gulf shrimping industry, it’ll only add to the problem of food miles and the pollution and economic imbalance issues that causes… bad one all round…
    By the way, you may enjoy the recipe I just posted on my blog (latest but one). It’s a shrimp and zucchinni curry cooked in yoghurt with some freshly roasted spices..
    (We call it prawn and courgette by the way).
    Great blog here :)

    • 15

      Christina said,

      It is a bad one all around. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive; in this day and age, you’d think we’d have it all under control and be able to quickly adapt to sustainable farming. It doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult. Your recipe looks delicious, by the way. Thanks for your comment!

  8. 16

    charskitchen said,

    I think this is such a great post as you indicate how everything is affected by the oil spill: even food. I myself love shrimp as well, particularly when it is caught not far from home.
    http://www.charskitchen.wordpress.com

  9. 18

    kendylau said,

    Great posts and yummy pictures:) Thanks for sharing:)

  10. 20

    Hey, Brooklyn native over here! I’m in Carrol Gardens! I saw this post, and agree with you about the BP oil spill. However, I noticed your trend in shrimp and wanted to ask if you’ve ever tried Tandoor Brick Oven Shrimp? You simply must try this as I’ve found it to be one of the most delicious ways to serve shrimp. You won’t feel any of the texture that you became sick of and the taste is just phenomenal!

  11. 22

    jocasey said,

    I’m also a shrimp lover, but as with all my fish I’m picky about where my fish and seafood comes from. I only buy sustainable and only US (because I live here). I have stocked up a little on the shrimp, but I’m expecting quite a drought to start soon because of the oil-spill. I hate the Indonesian farm-raised shrimp and once I learned about the practices stopped buying it at all.

    I think that BP owes a lot of repercussions to everyone that is going to lose their livelihoods from this spill, but I don’t like the “sand break” idea that the Louisiana governor is pushing. I think that people will be working to clean that oil up no matter what, but trying to resculped the shore is a waste of money and time.

    So long, and thanks for killing our fish BP!

    • 23

      Christina said,

      I also think BP should be held totally accountable for this mess; they have to be aware of the destruction they’ve caused. I honestly can’t keep reading about it, it’s so depressing to me…Thanks for your comment!

  12. 24

    srqpix said,

    Isn’t interesting how a childhood memory can bring back a fond memory and open our eyes to a disaster that we will have to live with for a very long time. BP has no idea how they will solve this spill. Sometimes I hear the news on TV and just think about how this is something that will be with us forever and someday we will tell our children about how there is now a dead zone where life used to flourish.

  13. 26

    I can’t imagine that the price per pound will ever prevent me from having shrimp. But, come to think of it, when did I last buy lobster?

    Tantalizing post.

    • 27

      Christina said,

      Thanks for your comment! And I agree with you–one of the benefits of shrimp is that it’s just so affordable. I think that will change too once the shortages start. I’ve heard that prices have already rising.

  14. 28

    HELLO?
    — Chicken McNuggets contain 4 petrochemicals*
    — the gulf is packed with Atrazine and god only knows what other nasties
    — you’re already full! Of ChemoCorn and SynthoChicken

    * Omnivores Dilemma by M. Pollan
    http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php

  15. 29

    Andrea said,

    I love shrimp, and frankly the oil spill only makes the unsustainable way in which we fish even more unsustainable. Maybe the oil spill will make s quit fishing those areas for a while, and allow the shrimp to repopulate, hopefully not as mutant shrimp with two heads or some such.

  16. 31

    shenanitims said,

    Any future shortages will just make your appreciation for shrimp that much more pronounced. Granted, I type that as I dread the day the oil hits any of my favorite Florida beaches. Just in time for summer!

  17. 32

    teax2 said,

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/16/louisiana-oil-spill-toxic-chemical-bp

    They’re using a hazardous chemical called Corexit 9500 to clean it up, and it may be making it even worse. I thought this fact would be on Freshly Pressed for sure. I fear for the future of shrimp :( and oysters and pelicans and dolphins and all the other cool stuff that grows/lives anywhere near the Gulf Coast.

    • 33

      Christina said,

      I started reading more about the chemical dispersant yesterday…it’s another aspect of this mess that I can’t stand to hear about. Who knows what lasting effects this will have on the Gulf.

  18. 34

    create polls said,

    Seems very delicious and healthy too. :)

  19. 35

    Zack Barnett said,

    We just had shrimp tacos tonight. Phenomenal. The oil spill’s impact is devastating. Shrimp, gators, birds, and all the other living things that make the gulf coast amazing are in peril. Bill Maher said best, something like, “Anyone who chanted ‘Drill baby, drill,’ should report for cleanup duty.”

  20. 37

    Andre said,

    I am appalled to find out how little a company that rakes in billions of dollars in profit each quarter was prepared for the worst, how they disregarded the most obvious safety protocols in the name of profit and how the entire world will have to pay the price for it.
    Shortsightedness and profit taking rules the corporate world.

  21. 39

    achilliad said,

    I have been fearing a post such as this…wanting to turn away from the fact that would eventually hit us in the taste. i am hoping that we can still get shrimp from the maine waters this summer, or maybe overseas. Truth be known thought, ‘man” is messing-up the Earth in his greed and blindness to safer fuels.
    Since 1988 we had ‘oil men’ in our White House; Jock Ewing and “J.R”…nuff said.

  22. 40

    Jitin said,

    nice post! like it. Any dish that contains shrimp is my favorite :)

  23. 41

    Kris said,

    Goos write-up with some deliscious looking shrimp dishes… :o) you know I still love that old time favorite… the shrimp cocktail…. classic!

  24. 42

    Nice post and I am certainly hoping for a miracle with BP. They need to get their stuff together fast!
    I am so glad that you posted the shrimp recipe. It is so easy and looks so good!

  25. 43

    I hope too, that they can figure out how to clean all of that oil spill mess. That’s really sad. I love the ocean and I love sea foods, too! Shrimp of course is my favorite. They’re so easy to cook, so versatile. You can practically do anything with it. Saute it, grill it or boil it! This recipe of yours actually sounds great, thanks for sharing by the way. :)

  26. 44

    [...] A foodie blog Talks about shrimp here and the gulf effect on her favorite recipes. Also has a blog on agave and spices. [...]

  27. 45

    [...] i did not make the above dish, but instead found it on a food blog.. just looking at it gave me the urge to attempt making that [...]

  28. 46

    Mish said,

    The whole ordeal makes me sick and pissed off. I grew up in an area where fishing is a way of life and I love seafood. Thanks for the recipes.

  29. 47

    Christina said,

    Thanks for the comments everyone! I’ve really enjoyed reading your responses to my post; I had no idea it would evoke such strong emotions. I also hope you enjoy the recipes. Thanks again for stopping by!

  30. 48

    justdc said,

    Indeed! I just pray this thing is nipped in the bud, too much damage has been done to the environment and I’m worried that it would never return to the way it was. Thank you for sharing this.

  31. 49

    AKP said,

    My (Artichokey) Heart is broken that there have been no new news from THE CHOKE in over a year!

    sigh….

  32. 51

    I like what you can do with these when you get creative.


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