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Maine Shrimp Boil

Maine Shrimp Boil

What Exactly are "Maine Shrimp"?        - - - - - - - - -
Magictofu (Slurp and Burp) asked me if Maine shrimp are the same as the Matane shrimp they get in Eastern Canada. The answer is yes: they are both Pandalus borealis.

 This is the simplest and probably the most popular way to cook and eat Maine shrimp: boil them in salted and herb-perfumed water and just set them out in bowls. Diners snap off the heads, slip the shells from the fresh pink shrimp and pop them in their mouths. Like eating popcorn, it's hard to stop.

Some people like cocktail sauce for dipping the shrimp, but I feel that the sauce obscures the flavor of the shrimp so usually we just eat them plain with a little lemon juice squeezed over them.  Beer is the traditional beverage pairing, but white wine works well too.

Maine Shrimp Boil

(Adapted from traditional Lousiana methods, which can be found at the fabulous Gumbo Pages. )

Serves 2 - 4, depending on appetites!

2 lb fresh Maine shrimp, heads on, unpeeled (see note)
3 quarts water
3 T salt
2 bay leaves
2 lemons
2 T black peppercorns
2 T coriander seed
1 T yellow mustard seed
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seed, mustard seed, dill seed, cloves, pepper flakes and wine. Halve one of the lemons, squeeze the juice into the water and then drop the lemon halves in. Simmer the water ten minutes to develop the flavor, then raise to a boil and dump in the shrimp and cook, stirring, two minutes -- no more -- and immediately drain in a colander. Rinse briefly with cold water, drain, and serve with lemon wedges, a big bowl for the shells, and plenty of napkins.

The heads and shells both add flavor to the dish but in the end they are discarded, so you can do this dish with headless or even peeled shrimp if that's what you find at the market. Remember that with less waste you'll need less weight for the same number of servings. If you are cooking them peeled reduce the cooking time to one minute only.


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Just a simple question... what exactly are Maine Shrimps? Are they those delicious sweet and fairly small shrimps? Pink not red?

If so, we also have our own nordic shrimps fisheries in Eastern Canada... In Quebec we call those shrimps "Crevettes de Matane" (Matane Shrimps) from the city where most fishing boats bring them to shore.

I might try to replicate your recipe but we hardly find our nordic shrimps with their shell on around here.

Ahh, shrimp. The perfect low carb food. Of course we have nothing that compares with this in Utah. That's why us inlanders love to visit the coasts.

Thanks for the update on Maine shrimps. These shrimps are delicious and it would be a great loss if they are no longer available on the market. They are so different from the regular hot water shrimps: very sweet and delicate in flavour. Here people tend to eat them with mayonaise and avocadoes.

Love 'em... cant wait to try your recipe..
We sometimes cook them in some olive oill, garlic, parsley, shallot, butter etc and then eat them, shell and all, up to the main body... crispy, yummy..

and then theres the ceviche, sashimi....

Thanks for the recipe. Shrimps are one of my favorite foods. I'm not sure I've had Maine/Matane shrimps, so I'm off to the market here to find some. Please tell me you're only joking that they won't be around for long. I'm hoping that you only mean the season is almost over and we'll have to wait until next year.

Hi Stephen, The last I had shrimps like this, "by the bowl", was in '99. At the time I was invited to a late afternoon boat party (can't remember if that's the official term) on lake Lanier outside of Atlanta. Great people, so much fun and an abundance of shrimp. 'Had such a good time, thanks for triggering the memories...

We just had shrimp last night - a Thai shrimp curry soup. It was absolutely wonderful. There is something so nice about shrimp, isn't there? I like that you keep the shrimp cooking time to a minimum. Andy longer and I find they get tough. And takes all the pleasure out of it. Cheers!

I just bought a five gallon bucket full of maine shrimp right off the boat. They are still moving. I steam them like staemed clamns and drown them in butter. Taste similar to lobster yet different. A one of a kind flavor. Man this stuff is good.

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