Shrimp is considered by many to be the most popular seafood in the nation. But this has not always been the case.
Until the late 1920s, fishermen thought of shrimp as pests that fouled their nets, and they threw them aside. John Maiolo, a retired sociology professor from East Carolina University, reported in his book "Hard Times and a Nickel a Bucket" that in those days North Carolina fishermen were paid 3 cents a pound for their catches while those who headed them were paid 5 cents a bucket. Many nutrition leaders recalled that folks would often throw the shrimp back in the waters.
We've come a long way from those times. Along the Southeast coast shrimp come in the colors of brown, white and pink. Shrimpers catch these favorites in large mesh nets. Cast net makers still are around, teaching their craft to their children and grandchildren, hoping the art will stay alive.
Shrimp are low in calories and fat, but high in protein. They contain a moderate amount of cholesterol, depending on the species. Shrimp drop one count in shelling and another in cooking. After peeling and cooking, raw and headless shrimp will yield about three-fourths their weight.
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Smaller shrimp should be used for casseroles, salads, sandwiches and in spreads and dips. Medium shrimp make good additions in soups and some entrees such as shrimp creole. They also can be steamed or grilled. Use large shrimp for grilling, steaming and other entrees where size matters.
Shrimp may be peeled before or after cooking. If they are boiled, steamed or pre-cooked for a recipe, they are much more flavorful if cooked in the shells.
A weekend of shrimp eating begins Friday with the 17th annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort. Details: 843-525-6644, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.downtownbeaufort.com
You can continue the fun at home preparing these shrimp dishes.
Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at email@example.com.