Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shrimp Salads

Not me, the things in the picture below! Prawns I suppose, what is the difference anyway?

There is a difference, did you know that? Let's start with what's the same (stolen from - Both are decapod crustaceans, meaning that they have exoskeletons and 10 legs. They can be found in salt and fresh water all over the world, typically swimming in search of food. Both shrimp and prawns tend to stay near the ocean floor. They also have similar flavors, and come in a wide range of sizes from minuscule to quite large.

Culinarily, many people distinguish between shrimp and prawns on the basis of size. “Prawns” are considered to be larger, while shrimp are smaller. In terms of biology, however, things get a bit more complex, since shrimp and prawns are in different suborders, indicating key biological differences between the two. Prawns are in the suborder Dendobranchiata, while shrimp are classified as Pleocyemata.

The primary difference is the gill structure. Shrimp have branching gills, while prawns have lameller gills with a platelike structure. There are a few other distinguishing features. The front pincers of shrimp are typically the largest, while prawns have bigger second pincers. Prawns also have longer legs than shrimp. These differences may seem subtle, but they indicate different steps along the evolutionary path of both creatures.

Numerous varieties of shrimp and prawns are harvested for consumption. Some common shrimp species include spot, pink, white, and brown shrimp, along with Northern shrimp. Prawns that you may find at the fishmonger include tiger, deep water, bay, and king prawns. 

Below, you can see my shrimp, they have been sprinkled with chili powder and red pepper flakes (I love spicy food) and then broiled just till firm. Yum!

I have been eating shrimp every single day now for four weeks. I LOVE shrimp! Tiny problem, I can only have 4 ounces (cooked), that's not a lot of shrimp.  But I have been making an awesome salad, I call it my Vietnamese Shrimp Salad. Check it out!

The salad above is at my desk, the dish is my travel salad container. I get 1 teaspoon of olive oil on it, since I eat a good fat at every single meal, I am using a fantastic Spanish olive oil that my brother-in law, Carlos Rafael Aguilar Gonzalez sent over here as a gift when my brother last visited. It's mixed greens (Super Greens) and spinach, a very small amount of cucumber and some endive. 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce and organic rice vinegar.

My friend Mark commented on my consumption of shrimp, he was concerned about cholesterol. I told him that ingesting foods high in cholesterol does not raise your blood cholesterol levels very much, eating saturated animal fats does! A lot of people avoid shrimp because they think it will wreak havoc on their cholesterol, well I have news for you- it won't. Here is an article on a study of how it really didn't raise cholesterol levels much at all. 

Back to my salad though, I eat a shrimp salad at my 4:00 meal everyday. I can have chicken, fish, beef or eggs, but I like shrimp! Shrimp is a fantastic protein source, and is high in tryptophan and iron. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that you cannot produce, you must ingest it and it is needed by the body to create serotonin- the feel good chemical produced in the brain.

Three ounces of shrimp contain 120 calories, 2 grams fat and 22 grams of protein. You cannot beat this great protein.

Sometimes I will broil them with my chili powder, and other times with smoky Spanish paprika, and most recently I purchased a wonderful spice blend called Shichimi Togarashi or Japanese 7 spice. I have a link here to a recipe from Chow so you can make your own!

I buy a bag of frozen raw shrimp, big as I can get, peeled (but most have the darn tail still on) and defrost them overnight. I have found the raw ones have less sodium in them. I then line a big cookie sheet with foil, cover them with my spice of choice, broil for a few minutes then turn and broil again on the other side for a few minutes. I then let them cool and rip off those pesky little tails and weigh them out into containers for my meals. 

This salad can be varied by the protein source and the spices or dressings you use. Do not use commercially prepared dressings, MEASURE your oil, don't try to eyeball it, and think outside of the box! My favorite greens are Super Greens , and I will add a very small amount of cucumber, Belgian endive, sugar snap peas or snow peas. I try to keep it to lettuces to reduce the carbs. If you visit their website, you can get a coupon for $1.00 off too!

Salads can be wonderfully healthy, but its the croutons, cheese, dressings, nuts, dried fruit and other non-greens that make them a disaster on a plate. And, if you use iceberg or romaine, it doesn't give you any nutrition to speak of, that is just slightly crunchy water, so stay away from those lettuces; in addition, they won't keep you as full as more fibrous ones! 

Notice I have no starch here, and little vegetable, so its really low in carbs, but I have some fats to give my body and brain the energy it requires (although it may desire more, it doesn't need it) - it doesn't take much, so 1 teaspoon of olive oil is enough!

Make a salad and do try the Japanese 7 spice- you can order it from Whole Spice Company, it's wonderful!