More than 100 species of commercially available shrimp exist in the world, and two of the tastiest varieties live in Texas Gulf waters. Brown shrimp are the species most often caught by Texas shrimpers, harvested at night in the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. White shrimp (with a gray hue) are found in shallow water closer to shore. On average, Texas lands 45 million pounds of shrimp per year.
Wild-caught shrimp offer a distinctive, briny flavor that distinguishes them from farm-raised shrimp. White shrimp typically have a milder flavor, while brown shrimp are more briny.
Shrimp should smell fresh and mild. The shells should be intact. In most cases, you’ll want to remove the shells and devein the shrimp. Remove the shell by holding the tail and carefully separating the shell from the flesh with your fingers or a small knife.
Once the shell is off, use a paring knife to make a small cut along the vein line along the outer curve of the body. When the vein is exposed, wash the shrimp with cold water, washing the vein away with it. If you want to butterfly the shrimp, make a deeper cut along the outer curve of the body—about halfway through the shrimp—and pull the meat apart into a butterfly shape.
If you decide to buy frozen shrimp, always read the label carefully so you’ll know the country where your shrimp originated and if it contains preservatives or additives.
The most popular ways to cook shrimp are grilling, boiling, blackening, deep-frying or panfrying. Each cooking method offers a different opportunity to create your own flavor combination.
Acadian Dusted Texas Gulf Shrimp
3 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
24 Texas Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons canola oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine all Acadian Dust ingredients and mix well.
2. Salt shrimp and lightly coat with Acadian Dust.
3. Combine oils in a deep skillet, then heat to smoking-hot. Sear shrimp on both sides to slightly blacken.
4. Remove and allow shrimp to rest for 30 seconds before plating.
Acadian Dust can be made in larger amounts and stored for future use.