When I went to pick up some mussels and clams for a dish to be made in a Portuguese cataplana – which I’ll tell you about in another post – I saw these amazing little bug-eyed creatures that I remembered from a couple of winter’s ago, Maine shrimp. They are the most wonderful corally-red color and so deliciously sweet and delicate that I had to buy a few. Since they were pretty pricy I got just enough to use as garnish on the shellfish stew we were making. Although once everyone tasted them, I felt a little guilty that I couldn’t offer more.
Maine shrimp are only caught for a brief period during the late winter – I think the season begins at the end of December and ends in February and since they have been over-fished limits are defined. Not many make their way down the coast to New York and I would guess they are unheard of in other parts of the country. I’m not a shrimp lover (even though I once wrote a book called The Ubiquitous Shrimp) only because shrimp doesn’t have the same taste I remember from my California childhood (where little guys are shrimp and big guys are prawns), BUT Maine shrimp bring that flavor memory right back to me.
Should you find them, either eat them raw or barely cook them – perhaps with a tiny bit of olive oil and lemon for just a few seconds in a very hot pan.