Field Guide: Shrimp

Protein
Types

Pink / White / Brown Shrimp

What is it

As a Gulf seafood standard, Alabama Shrimp will typically come in one of three colors: brown, white and pink. While their hues are only a few shades apart, you can tell the difference by their size and taste. The most plentiful breed of the Alabama Gulf Coast is the Brown Shrimp, a real catch for Shrimp lovers because of its bold, unique taste. White Shrimp are larger, softer in texture, and more mild in flavor by comparison, so they’re great for soaking up the tastes of a surrounding dish. The Pink Shrimp is the largest of the Gulf Shrimp species, but it doesn’t have the same commercial presence as its brown and white cousins in Alabama.

When to get it

[italic] [/italic]Fortunately for seafood lovers, these three breeds can be harvested all year long throughout Alabama’s coastal waters. Pink Shrimp kick off the calendar year with a peak season that spans from January to June. White Shrimp balance things out with a peak season that runs from May through November. And while they can be found more easily along the Gulf Coast year round, Brown Shrimp reach their peak season from June through August making them the perfect choice for a summer vacation or a warm weather cookout.

Where does it come from

[italic] [/italic]Alabama’s coastal waters, complete with a number of bays and plenty of grass beds, are the ideal place for Shrimp to mature and grow. Once they’ve reached adult size, these three species of Shrimp live along the shoreline until they’re harvested. Because Alabama Shrimp are caught in this manner, they are prepared and sold fresh throughout the state; this means they’re free from harmful chemicals that are found in imported Shrimp and hold a better flavor. If you want the freshest and tastiest Shrimp that Alabama’s Gulf Coast has to offer, check out our list of distributors and restaurants. [strong][italic]How it’s Prepared:[/italic][/strong][italic] [/italic]The most popular way to prepare these three breeds of Shrimp is to fry (or deep-fry) them; most recipes will call for a batter or breading made from cornmeal and flour. If you want to eat healthy, try grilling your Shrimp. Make sure the Shrimp are grilled quickly but not over too much heat, especially if the Shrimp are small. Most chefs will tell you that the worst thing that you can do to a Shrimp is to overcook it. Another option is to boil the Shrimp with some salt, a squeezed lemon and a pack of Shrimp/Crab Boil seasoning, but remember not to leave them in too long.

Royal Red Shrimp

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

[italic] [/italic]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. [strong][italic]How it’s Prepared:[/italic][/strong] 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.