“Northern Pink Shrimp”
(Pandalus borealis): WILD
“MAINE SHRIMP” is the common name for the Northern, or Pink, Shrimp that are found throughout the waters of the north Atlantic, north Pacific and Arctic oceans, inhabiting the soft muddy sea bottoms, feeding on plankton and other microscopic organisms. The Gulf of Maine represents the southern limit of this species’ distribution and is one of the most dependable areas for harvest. With the advent of winter waters, egg-bearing females move inshore to hatch their eggs, beginning the boutique fishery here in Maine. Considered a delicacy by many New Englanders, Maine Shrimp have found a national audience on many menus and are a coveted item signaled by the onset of winter.
For many of our local Maine fishermen, the abbreviated northern shrimp season is a vital source of income (estimates put it at $70 million annually), although the fishing season seems to get shorter and shorter each year – 2013 no exception as the total allowable catch has been cut from 5.3 million pounds allowed in 2012 to a meager 1.38 million. Landings by Maine fishermen represent over 90% of the New England harvest. It is also a fairly dangerous endeavor, as the bitter Maine weather and often-rough seas play a major factor in availability and price. Shrimp are harvested by dayboats and arrive at the docks still alive and pristinely fresh.
Maine shrimp are also commonly referred to as “popcorn shrimp” because once de-shelled their “meats” rarely exceed an inch and a half long. Small and reddish in color, their thin shells are easy to remove and they require no deveining. They have a firm, mild-tasting flesh in tail and body that is considered uniquely sweeter than larger prawns from warmer waters.
An extremely versatile seafood item, they are excellent when sautéed or deep-fried, and even smoked. They are also perfect for pasta dishes, in spring rolls, in shrimp salads, casseroles or as garnish. Many restaurants have taken to them served raw as crudo. However, these shrimp are extremely tender and delicate so require little to no heat to cook – attention must be paid when preparing.
Browne Trading procures Maine Shrimp at the nearby Portland Fish Exchange or other local sources, and are able to provide fresh, head-on Maine shrimp at a competitive price. Fresh shrimp meat is also available for the same limited time.
Catch Region: Gulf of Maine
Seasonality – 2013: Trawl Season begins in January, Trap Season in February. Fishery closes once total preset catch limit is reached.
Catch Method: Dayboat Trawls and Traps
Yield: Approximately 2 pounds of whole shrimp yields about 1 pound of cooked shrimp
Flavor Profile: Sweet
Texture Profile: Very delicate
Substitute: Warm Water or Farmed Shrimps