There’s Lots of Flavor in Them Thar Shrimp Heads!

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

Monahan’s has always sold our own stock made from our leftover fish heads and bones, but we’re seeing fewer of them these days. People are buying more whole fish and enjoying the great flavor and goodness in the meat around the cheeks, collar, and bones. Americans are appreciating more and more the beauty of a whole fish on the plate and being able to see the freshness in the eyes and gills before buying.

head on shrimp

Most of us however, are still missing out on another great treat, shrimp heads! Shrimp, the most loved and consumed seafood on earth (next to tuna, ‘cause so much of it is canned) is sold in the U.S. mainly as headless tails. All over Europe and Asia most people would no longer serve a headless shrimp than to serve a decapitated fish. It just doesn’t look right, and it sure has less flavor. One possible problem with shrimp heads though is that they are more perishable than the tail meats. They discolor quickly and are tricky for a fish market to handle properly. Did you know that the vast majority of shrimp sold in the U.S. has been previously frozen and that most fish markets thaw and display them? This means that in order for most of us to buy great shrimp they have to have been properly frozen when they are super fresh and not to have been thawed for very long.

Unfortunately, it’s also true that Americans eat more imported shrimp than domestic. The farm-raised shrimp, many from Asia or Central America, may be less expensive but in our opinion they just don’t have the firm snap and sweetness of the sea that our wild gulf shrimp have. We also like to support our gulf shrimpers as they compete with a sea of cheap imports. Our market offers all sizes of headless gulf shrimp and they’re delicious, but we’ve finally found a big (under 8 per pound) head on wild gulf shrimp. They’re out of Galveston, Texas and they go straight from the net to the freezer. We thaw them and put ‘em out on the ice, or you can buy them frozen.

Whether you’re making a garlicky scampi, a chinese style steamed whole shrimp, a paella, splitting and broiling, stir frying or grilling the classic shrimp on the barbie, you’ll be amazed at the flavor that the fat and all the other goodies in the head will add.

This week’s recipe is based on the old New Orleans Barbequed Shrimp. I can’t think of a better finger lickin’, head suckin’, bread soppin’ dish than this. The heads give the sauce amazing flavor. Of course they use lots of pure natural butter down in Louisiana but you can cut back if you want, and just use a bit more olive oil. Andouille sausage isn’t typical in this dish but it does add a nice flavor if you want. Tomatoes are not typical either but our local supply is so great right now that we use ‘em whenever we can.

Monahan's Seafood

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