What is it: The crowned jewel of Alabama Shrimp, the Royal Red is a tastier species compared to the pink, white, and brown varieties. While few had even heard of the Royal Red before the mid-90s, it has since grown to be immensely popular with locals and well-informed tourists along the Gulf Coast. Royal Red Shrimp can be identified by their large size, rich crimson color and their naturally salty and flavorful taste that has been compared to both Lobster and Bay Scallops.
When to Get it: While this breed, like other breeds of Alabama Shrimp, can be found all year long, Royal Red season runs from late summer through the end of fall. If you’re hungry for the freshest possible Royal Reds, try ordering them during the peak month of September.
Where Does it Come From: Because they prefer sandy environments and cool temperatures, the Royal Red Shrimp live at distances that reach sixty miles from the Alabama shoreline. Only a select few Gulf Coast fishermen are licensed to harvest Royal Reds, which are immediately frozen when they’re brought on board because of the distances that Royal Red shrimpers must travel. Royal Red Shrimp, whether bought from a distributor or ordered at a restaurant, may run a higher price because of their incomparable flavor and texture. Don’t be shy when asking your waiter—many Gulf Coast restaurants serve Royal Reds but don’t list them on the menu.
How it’s Prepared: Royal Red Shrimp can be easily substituted for Brown Shrimp in any standard recipe. However, because they make their home in deeper waters than other Alabama Shrimps, Royal Reds have a natural saltiness to their taste, so there’s no need to add a lot of extra salt to your other ingredients. Make sure you’re careful about overcooking when dealing with Royal Reds; these Shrimp are naturally a pinkish color even when raw, and it only takes half the time to cook them compared to Pinks, Whites or Browns.